As you start to round the corner to senior year (wahoo you’re almost done!), you may think that most of your work is behind you, and you’re largely correct. In another month or two, your junior year grades will be final, and not long after that, any AP tests you took will also be graded and reported. At this point, your high school classes and grades — perhaps the most critical part of your college applications — are largely set.
However, this doesn’t mean that senior year doesn’t matter. The classes you take and the grades you get do have an impact on college admissions. Here’s why they matter and how you should approach senior year.
Admission officers care about trends
No, we’re talking not about Beyonce or the latest emoji update. Admission officers care about your grade trend over the course of your high school career. They want to get a sense of how you’ll do academically as a freshman, so they want to see consistently high performance over the course of high school or a steady improvement each year.
This trend includes senior year. If admission officers see that your grades suddenly fell off at the start of senior year, they’ll take it as a warning sign. It may make them question how well you’ll handle the increased rigor of a college curriculum. The moral of the story: senior year is not the time to slack off, as tempting as it may be. College admission officers can and will check to see how you’re doing in your senior year classes. Don’t give them reason to be worried!
Class selection still matters senior year
Just as your senior year grades matter, where you get them does too. A 4.0 may look good and continue a strong trend, but if you received it by taking two periods of student aid and woodshop, admission officers will do a double take. Not slacking off senior year means continuing to challenge yourself with tough classes. However, tough classes may not mean the toughest classes offered at your school (unless you’re shooting for a very selective college). As Meghan McHale Dangremond, an admissions officer at Tufts University, writes, “know yourself and your abilities; overdoing rigor and landing with Cs will not help your cause.” Chose classes that will challenge you, not kill your GPA.
Remember that admission officers want to see that you’re prepared for college and the best way to do this is to challenge yourself with a variety of classes. This means that you’ve researched what colleges expect you to have taken and that you’ve followed through. By the time senior year rolls around, you already may know that you plan to study engineering in college or go pre-med, for example. If you’ve covered the college class expectations, it’s ok at this point to double up on a subject of interest.
Again, as you approach senior year, acknowledge all the hard work you’ve done so far. You truly are so close to college. But use this as momentum to make your last year of high school great in order to set yourself up for a smooth transition to college.
What are your goals for senior year? Tell us how you’re setting yourself up for college success.