Senior slump: A cautionary tale
My guest is college admissions consultant Bruce Vinik, president of Vinik Educational Placement Services, Inc., in Cabin John, Md.
By Bruce Vinik
Senior Slump. It’s a reality for thousands of students at this time of year.
As high school graduation gets closer and the weather warms up, it becomes increasingly difficult for many 12th graders to focus on their school work and do what they need to do. As the beginning of May approaches, even high achieving students give serious consideration to skipping their Advanced Placement exams and heading to the beach.
But senior slump is serious business to colleges.
Most of those highly coveted acceptance letters that seniors receive include a friendly warning that their admission is contingent upon the successful completion of 12th grade.
And colleges do check to make sure that incoming freshman have successfully completed twelfth grade by reviewing their final high school transcripts over the summer.
Here's a cautionary tale: Toward the end of July last year, I received a phone call from a mother who was quite upset. Her daughter, who was about to begin the process of packing for college, had just received a thin envelope from the university where she planned to spend the next four years.
Inside this envelope was a letter from the dean of students who had reviewed Louise’s final high school grades and was not convinced that she was ready for college. The dean was extremely concerned about the drop in Louise’s grades during the second half of senior year from A’s and B’s to mostly C’s.
He asked her to produce a detailed plan of action for the first semester of college but made clear that submitting a plan would not automatically allow her to keep her spot in the freshman class.
Over the next week, I worked with Louise to devise a strategy to help her make a successful transition to college. It included regular meetings with her teachers and her advisor, limits on extracurricular activities and a reduced course load. Louise submitted the plan and, after a few anxious days, received a stamp of approval from the dean.
Louise became an official member of the class of 2013 again, though she was placed on academic probation for the first semester.
While colleges understand that seniors are still teenagers and that a certain amount of slipping toward the end of 12thh grade is inevitable, they do expect students to take their academic responsibilities seriously up to graduation. Fortunately, most do.
But those seniors who decide that summer begins in late April may well find themselves in for a rude awakening when a thin envelope arrives in the middle of their real summer vacation.
Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our new Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!
| April 24, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories: Bruce Vinik, College Admissions, Guest Bloggers, High School | Tags: college admissions, getting into college, grades and college, senior slump, senior year grades
Save & Share: Previous: Straight talk about charter schools
Next: New strategy to teach vocabulary -- Viadero
Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 24, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: patrickmattimore1 | April 24, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sarahee | April 24, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: flteacher05 | April 25, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sideswiththekids | April 25, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: itkonlyyou29 | April 26, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.