According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, about 35% of colleges report rescinding college acceptances. In fact, the University of California and the University of Colorado typically take back several dozen acceptances each year. With long waiting lists at many colleges, there is no trouble filling those vacancies. Why do colleges reject students after they have been accepted? One word: Senioritis. It’s an insidious and highly contagious disease that the American Psychological Association doesn’t recognize. It affects only a small subset of society, high school seniors, and strikes almost exclusively in the springtime. The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines Senioritis as “an ebbing of effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades.” Parents are often caught by surprise because it hits after the stress of college admissions season and can affect even the most conscientious students.
Accepted – NOT!
First the student misses a history paper deadline, then they get a low grade on a test, they break curfew. In addition to plummeting grades, there can be school suspensions, and in some cases, arrests at parties involving drugs and alcohol. What many students don’t realize is that their college acceptance is contingent on maintaining the same level of grades that they had when accepted and a clean behavioral record. Colleges CAN and WILL rescind an acceptance if final grades are significantly lower, a suspension occurs, or the student is involved in a misdemeanor or felony. About 2/3 of colleges report that acceptances are rescinded because of grades and 1/3 because of disciplinary issues. Remember that high schools are required to send your final grades and an update on any behavioral infractions to colleges. Appear in the police blotter, and a local parent with a student on your college’s waiting list may send it in to admissions; it happens all the time.
What can parents do? First don’t ignore the early signs. Speak to your children about the importance of a successful senior spring and the risks of veering off track. It is understandable that seniors feel a sense of relief after working hard for four years to achieve their college goals, but now is not the time to risk it all. Senior projects, internships and community service trips can help direct seniors who feel the need to experience life beyond the classroom. Family projects or excursions can also be a good diversion. If you have been thinking about going green in your home or taking a summer family trip, put your senior in charge of researching and executing the plan.
If the worst does happen and grades plummet or your child is involved in a disciplinary incident at school or in the community, you need to be ready to deal with the situation. When a college rescinds an acceptance or expresses concern, the student needs to write a substantive letter explaining what happened and taking full responsibility. He or she should then detail what they learned from the situation and why it will not happen again. In some cases, it may make sense to travel to the college and meet with administrators to emphasize your commitment to higher education and being an upstanding member of the college community.