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Do Colleges Care about Your Senior Year?

August 25, 2008 By: Category: Admissions insider, Application tips, Best College Tips, Get into College

Welcome to your senior year. It’s an exciting time full of change and celebration. Many people have probably told you how unimportant your senior year is. For example, they maybe told you that your grades don’t matter one iota, although usually you should do better in the first semester than the second. Or maybe they told you that colleges will not look at your grades from senior year because they already have accepted you based on your 9th-11th years.  Well, my young, goal-oriented high schooler, THESE ARE LIES. Your senior year counts. Not only does your senior year count towards your high school graduation, it counts towards the trend that you have worked so hard to set over the past three years and that you promised you would continue to achieve when you applied to college.

But, fret not. The senior year, although it does count as a significant factor in the college admission decision- as far as the strength of your curriculum, your GPA and your class rank are concerned- it is not unlike any of the other years that you have entered. My advice is the same for seniors as it is for freshmen: it’s better to get an A in a regular-level course than a C in an AP course; it’s better to challenge yourself with courses that reflect your intellectual interests than courses that you feel pressured to take (i.e. if you really want to take anatomy-physiology instead of physics, go for it!).

The senior year is about you getting comfortable with directing your own academic pursuits. Don’t do what your guidance counselor tells you to do if her/his reason is “you HAVE to take this class for college”. Instead, take a constructive balance of courses that shows you are academically serious but also intellectually curious. If you have taken AP courses in the past, take an AP course or two. You may also consider taking a more creative course or pursuing an internship. Whatever you do, don’t fill your schedule with courses like “study hall”, “teacher’s assistant” and/or “typing”. These are courses that just demonstrate laziness and a lack of curiosity.

The worse thing that you can convey to colleges that you are not taking your senior year seriously. Remember, at most schools, your senior year WILL count as 25% of your academic history. At some, it will count as even more (33%) as many universities do not calculate your 9th grade year as a part of your overall academic GPA and history. In other words, continue to work as hard as you always have, in classes that similarly challenge you.