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Students Ask, College Counselors Answer

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This week's question from Ashley S., Norman, OK asks:

I just heard that colleges will sometimes revoke an offer of admission. What kinds of behaviors can cause this and how can students protect themselves?

Accepted may not mean attending…

Candy Cushing | Associate Director of College Counseling
It is understandable for a senior to think the journey is over and the work is done if the belief is to achieve college acceptance. However, within your letter of acceptance will be a sentence reading to the effect: Admission is offered with the provision that your overall academic and personal performance continues to be as strong as it has been to this point. The same is expected of your final course load. Seniors, this means no grade slippage, no changing out courses for an easier load, no disciplinary action. Remain the person originally admitted.

Admission offers are revoked every summer, leaving affected students few options

Peggy Hock | Educational Consultant
Colleges’ offers of admission are contingent on students maintaining the same high standards demonstrated on the application. When a student is disciplined for academic dishonesty or serious rule breaking, the high school has an obligation to inform the college and the college will review the offer of admission. Final transcripts are reviewed by colleges mid-summer, when students may have already attended orientation and registered for classes. Colleges will still rescind admission at this late date. How can you keep this from happening to you? Don’t get carried away senior year by visions of freedom just because you have been admitted to college. Colleges want to enroll serious students who will be an asset to their community.

Avoiding pitfalls & staying on track for a successful enrollment!

Sarah Hernandez | Director of the Office of Diversity Programs in Engineering
You are all set to start college in the fall, so what could go wrong between now and then? Well nothing, unless your academics slip significantly prior to graduation, you engage in behaviors that are illegal or in violation of academic integrity codes (for example, cheating), or if you don’t fulfill requirements stated as a condition of your admission. To avoid placing yourself in a position as precarious as having your admission revoked, simply remain in good academic standing through graduation and use sound judgment when engaging in activities in and outside of school. Additionally, be truthful in any information you report to your institution, as falsifying information could also be grounds for your admission being revoked.

Beware – Colleges Can and Do Rescind Offers of Admission

Marilyn Emerson | Founder
Students, I know it is a challenge to remain focused and to exhibit consistently good behavior during your final months of high school. Nonetheless, I urge you to do so or risk having your acceptance rescinded. The number one reason that colleges rescind admission is “senioritis,” resulting in a significant drop in a senior’s grades. Other reasons include: a school learns that a student misrepresented himself on his application, a student deposits at more than one school, a student engages in behavior that shows a serious lack of judgment, and a student fails to graduate from high school.

Beware of senioritis!

Laurie Favaro | Independent College Counselor
As I’m sure you know, the college admissions process can be stressful and exhausting. There’s no better feeling than pressing “submit” on your final college application and becoming a second-semester senior with extra time on your hands. While you should feel proud and pleased to be in the final stretch of high school life, don’t let down your guard too much. A significant drop in grades or disciplinary violation could jeopardize your well-earned offers of admission. Enjoy the last months with classmates and celebrate your accomplishments, but remain focused on your promising future.

Common reasons why an admissions offer is revoked

Stacey Kostell | Director of Undergraduate Admissions
One of the most common ways is not performing academically. This includes not performing at the same level as previous semesters or dropping academic coursework in your senior year without informing the college. Stay on track, get permission/input before changing your schedule after the application is submitted. Other ways - misconduct senior year - academic dishonesty or criminal behavior. Report these to the college immediately with a full explanation. Take responsibility for your actions.

Continue to work hard, stay substance free and play nice

Jennifer DesMaisons | Director of College Counseling
The most common reasons that a college might revoke an offer of admission would be because of a major drop in grades or disciplinary incident (academic or otherwise) that took place after the acceptance letter and before a student's high school graduation date. Even more offensive than alcohol and drug violations are cases of plagiarism or bullying (in person or any type of cyber harassment). Be very conscious of how you present yourself and how you interact with others online, particularly in social arenas like Facebook.

Danger Zones – Senioritis, Plagiarism, and Falsifying Data - No Trespassing

Rachel Winston | President
May 1st is the "National Reply Date" for a student to inform his or her chosen school of the decision to accept admittance. Yet, if a student does not maintain high scholastics, that admittance can be revoked. 'Senioritis' afflicts many students who celebrate too early. Students who have earned a 'D' during the second semester may find they have no college to attend in the fall. Plagiarism, in high school or on an admissions essay, is also grounds for an admission to be revoked, or expulsion from school. This holds true for falsifying academic credentials, activities, or other application information.

Dishonest Behavior Can Derail Your College Plans

Joan Bress | Director & Certified Educational Planner
When a college makes an offer of admission to a student, they expect that the student will continue to perform well through the remainder of the senior year. Any change in academic performance or behavior can cause the college to reconsider their offer. Dishonest behavior is of primary concern because it makes the college question all aspects of the student’s life. Try to be a role model of honest behavior both in and outside of the classroom. Avoid behavior that causes suspicion, but if you make a mistake take responsibility for your action. You college just might forgive your mistake because of your subsequent honesty. Good luck – and good behavior.

Do not misrepresent yourself or slack off academically

Jane Hoffman | Founder
When colleges offer admissions they are building communities of students, scholars and dorm mates. As such, they have a responsibility to the individuals they admit and to the group that will make up the next class. If they learn that an applicant has misrepresented him or herself on an application or is not sustaining a level of academic performance that was to be reasonably expected, they do rescind admission offers. So, while the extreme pressure to perform may have lightened, you should not slack off academically. And you should never, before or after receiving an offer of admission, behave irresponsibly.

Don’t fall prey to senioritis

Michele Hernandez | President & Founder
There are two reasons colleges can revoke an offer of admission: academic and behavioral. Every college as a different threshold. At Dartmouth where I worked, we asked students to respond to a GPA senior year of 2.0 or lower, or any grades of D or F. If their explanation was not convincing, they were unaccepted. In general, colleges expect you to maintain your grades – so sure, you can get a B or two, but not B/C grades. Some schools like Stanford have been known to ask students to explain even one grade of C. The other major area is behavioral and the worst infraction would be academic dishonesty – grounds for instant revocation. The other area would be any felony charges, criminal charges, or anything that leads to getting suspended or expelled from school. The moral of the story is to maintain the same standard senior year as you did before you applied to college.

Honesty, integrity, and senior year effort will prevail

Bill Yarwood | Director of Guidance
Although relatively rare, the revocation of an offer of admission usually occurs because the student has not kept his or her part of the bargain. It could happen if academic work in the senior year has declined significantly, or if the student has not been forthright about academic credentials or about unreported or misrepresented disciplinary actions. It could also be triggered by a violation of an admission agreement, such as with Early Decision. Adhere to the age-old advice that “Honesty is the best policy,” and continue to work hard in your senior year, and you should not have to worry.

It's simple: Keep the grades UP!

John Carpenter | Founder
Most colleges offer you a conditional admission, based on successful completion of high school. What "successful" means will vary from place to place, obviously, but at most selective schools, the expectation is that you will continue to achieve at a high level academically. I've seen students make the decision to coast through second semester of senior year, and in some instances, that meant they also received a letter from a dean after final grades were submitted in the summer, indicating one of three things: 1)the admissions office has decided to reevaluate their offer and would like to hear why second semester grades were lower; 2) the student will begin the first semester on academic probation; or 3) the offer of admission has been rescinded. The moral of this story? I think you can figure that one out!

Maturity and Matriculation

Dave Hamilton | Director of College Advising
Be aware that colleges carefully review final transcripts for a significant decline in one's academic performance since the time of admission. Students who fail to graduate, who have a single F in any course, who have multiple D’s as final grades, or who have a final exam record that demonstrates a less than serious approach, will invariably earn reconsideration by the school's admission committee. It should also be said that acceptances are also contingent on upholding high standards of character even if the student has already graduated from high school.

Mind your GPA and your online image

Suzanne Shaffer | Founder
At the end of the school year, colleges often evaluate their admissions offers based on the final transcript they receive from the student’s high school. If you take “senioritis” seriously and skate through your last few months of high school, you could find yourself without a college to attend in the fall. In the same respect, if your online presence contains questionable character information, and it comes to the attention of admissions, colleges might reevaluate their offer of admission. Bottom line: stay focused on your academics and keep your image clean

Once you get in, better behave! Colleges can revoke admission

Katherine Cohen | Founder & CEO
Just because you receive that college acceptance letter, doesn’t mean you’ll be matriculating the coming fall. First, a school must receive your commitment along with a deposit by the all-important May 1 deadline; if they do not, then they may release your spot to someone on the waitlist. Don’t catch senioritis! Students often think that once they get in, all the hard work is over. Not quite. An offer of admission is contingent on passing all courses listed on your senior year schedule. Colleges require a copy of your final year transcript to ensure that you have graduated and successfully passed all courses—dropping or failing even one course can hurt. Generally speaking, you also want avoid any misconduct, including cheating and getting arrested. Also, be careful of what you post on Facebook and MySpace!

Reasons why an admissions committee would revoke offer

Nancy Benedict | Vice President for Enrollment
You applied early action, got into your dream school, paid the deposit and are just waiting for August to roll around. Don’t take your eyes off the prize! That offer of admission, even if you’ve paid your deposit, can be revoked if your performance after you’re “in” betrays who you represented yourself to be as a student, a school citizen, and prospective member of the Class of 2016. Grades slip precipitously? Did you drop many classes? Run into disciplinary trouble? Discoverable behaviors may result in your admission being revoked. Remember, you were admitted on the strength of your application and the admissions committee’s confidence in you. Don’t let them—or yourself—down.

Revocations of admission are rare and easy to avoid

Craig Meister | President
While revocations of admission are relatively rare, they do occur when accepted students demonstrate some sort of egregious behavior. This includes being convicted of a felony or misdemeanor crime, being arrested and accused of a crime, even if not convicted, being suspended or expelled from your high school, or being discovered to have falsified an application for admission in some way. What most students are worried about is being “un-accepted” after earning grades during second semester of senior year that are lower than the grades earned earlier in high school. This only happens when the grade drop is precipitous.

Schools want students to be a positive reflection

Mitch Clark | Executive Director
The student body at a college is a reflection of the institution both upon the students’ arrival and after graduating. If a student who has been accepted for admission creates a negative situation that will impact the school, they may find themselves with a rescinded offer. Poor senior year grades or changing into “easier” classes could be an indication that student isn’t serious about their education. Behavior that involves the law or school suspension could show a lack of maturity and responsibility. Accepting admission should be viewed as an agreement that the student will reflect well on the school.

Senioritis and Bad Behavior Get Kids Kicked Out of College

Jolyn Brand | Founder & Director
Those students who slack off during senior year, called “senioritis,” should remember that acceptance letters are conditional! The most common reason for retracting offers is poor final grades, followed by disciplinary actions (violence, cheating, drug offenses and theft). According to NACAC, 22% of colleges revoked offers in 2009. This number had increased 230% from 2008! Students can avoid this terrible situation by maintaining their current class load and grade point averages. Students who drop AP or Honors courses, or whose GPA goes from A’s to D’s may be in jeopardy of not going to college AT ALL after graduation.

Sensible Summer Days!

Patricia Tamborello | College Counselor
The lazy, hazy days of summer are made to recharge and to relax. Do things that will rejuvenate you for the school year ahead. Decisions need to continue to be wise so as not to jeopardize your enrollment at your chosen school in August. Remember, now that you are eighteen you are considered an adult in the eyes of the law. So, think before you act and never put anything on Facebook that you aren’t proud of.

Stay On The Same Path That Got You In…

James Maroney | Director
While colleges reserve the right to rescind an offer of admission if you do not hold up your end of the bargain academically (i.e. failing some classes) or personally (i.e. getting arrested, suspended, or even worse, both), if you maintain the same path that got you accepted to school, you will not have any problems. Make sure to check your email in case the school is asking for financial aid or other admissions information. Also, make sure to return your housing deposit and accept the school’s offer of admission by the posted deadline, as missing key deadlines could cause you to miss opportunities (or in some circumstances have an offer of admission rescinded).

That’s Easy-A Bad case of Senioritis!

Marcia Hunt | Director of College Counseling
The sometimes fatal disease during the college admission process is the malady of senioritis. Often caught by seniors after first semester grades have been sent to colleges, but particularly prevalent after an early decision or early action admission, senioritis symptoms include a total shut-down of academic effort or engagement, resulting in grades significantly lower than those when the student was admitted. Just about every college warns students that there will be consequences if grades drop. One large very selective public university disinvited 100 of its admits last year because of grade drops. The bottom line….don’t let this happen to you. Keep your grades up!

The rumors are true: colleges do revoke offers of admission

Susan Sykes | President
In late June I received a call from a parent whose recently graduated student had decided to relax second semester—and then was “uninvited” to attend The College of Her Dreams. Colleges view students as adults and they expect adult-like behavior. You are admitted partly on the basis of your senior year courses and grades, so dropping AP Physics for Badminton I will not impress admission committees. And Facebook postings you wouldn’t want Grandma to see are not considered adult-like behavior. You’re doing yourself a favor by maintaining your grades and exercising good judgment

Until the day you graduate, be a high school student

Dale Ford | Counseling Department Chair
I’m aware of several cases where students had their acceptances revoked because their grades dropped in the final semester of high school. The best way to prevent this from happening is to continue to be a student. If you earn roughly the same high school grades after admission as you had been earning before you were admitted, you’ll be fine.

What does Facebook say about You?

Pamela Ellis | Founder
The most recent revocation that I’ve heard about involved inappropriate Facebook postings. Although the number of colleges that use social media in their admissions role is relatively small, that number is growing. Many college-bound students leave themselves open (i.e. no privacy restrictions) and post messages on social media that question their character. Students must remember that postings on the internet leave an indelible statement about their character and judgment. Students can protect themselves by thinking twice before posting, being aware of how colleges use these tools, and deleting any immature posts from “friends.”

What is this thing called “Senioritis”?

Jeannie Borin | Founder & President
With college acceptance letters sent and decisions on where to attend made, students can forget that their final high school grades can affect their admission to a university. A considerable factor considered by colleges is also when students drop classes they have reported to a college. Respecting the terms of acceptance is crucial and should not be underestimated. Other factors that may reverse an offer of admission may be cheating, violent behavior, drug related problems, theft, significant truancy and unsuitable website postings. Protect yourself by staying on track and get to your high school finish line strong.

What you do once you’re admitted still counts big time!

Julie Manhan | Founder
Doing something that changes a college’s belief that you can be a successful, positive member of their student body increases the chances that your admission will be rescinded. I personally know students who have had this happen to them because of a significant drop in grades, excessive unexcused absences and failure to pass a required course. Serious infractions such as being suspended or arrested may also cause this to happen. However, colleges do not do this lightly. If you proactively notify them of academic changes that are due to extenuating circumstances, they may be willing to work with you.

When colleges fold up the welcome mat

Andrea van Niekerk | Educational Consultant
Colleges revoke offers of admission reluctantly, but it happens: NACAC says in 2009 22 percent of colleges did so. The most obvious cause is a severe case of senioritis after acceptance, when seniors are required to keep grades and courses on par with their application transcripts. Colleges also assume their offers are contingent on students’ behavior and integrity during and after the application process, and lying about Early Decision pledges, cheating in school or committing crimes can encourage a college to cut an accepted student loose. Notice that most colleges cannily phrase their offer of admission as a conditional one!

You’re in and now you’re out…colleges do revoke offers.

Rebecca Joseph | Executive Director & Founder
Meet David and Samantha. Both got admitted to major universities Early Decision but decided entered the black hole of senior year. David got Ds in several third quarter classes and Samantha’s GPA plummeted spring semester. One of David’s teachers contacted his college, and it revoked his admissions. Samantha’s college received her spring grades and decided to review her offer. David had to fly to the college and beg for forgiveness. They deferred him a year. Samantha took summer classes to make up for her low grades. Her college barely kept her. Everyone should work as a team to avoid senioritis.

You’re Not Home Free Until You Matriculate

Linda Turner | President
Sometimes in the midst of the euphoria of receiving that coveted acceptance letter from your first choice college, you can forget that colleges expect to see the stellar academic and personal qualities that got you selected continue. Thinking about letting your grades really slide second semester? Getting ready to sneak some beer into the gymnasium for that sectional playoff? Think again! It takes a big drop in grades and/or behavior that warrants suspension to alert colleges to a possible revocation of admission. But, if you stay true to the person who applied in the first place – then you’ll get the reward of being able to say, “my alma mater.”

Your senior year still counts!

Mabel Freeman | Asst. VP for Undergraduate Admissions
Revoking an offer of admission is not a policy that we take lightly. When college admissions materials point out that the applicant’s academic work, character, and behavior are taken into consideration *through* the completion of the senior year, we mean that. Eighth semester transcripts are part of our final review process. A drastic change in grades or dropping key courses in the senior year or incidents of negative behavior can result in a reversal of an earlier decision. Stay focused on your college goals right up through your entire senior year….and just forget those goofy graduation pranks.


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