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Handling Senioritis: The Value of Second Semester Grades
By the time the second semester of your senior year arrives, you will have been in school almost your whole life. Trust us — we understand that it’s been ages since you really relaxed. Summers have been full of impressive activities and the academic year leaves not even a second to breathe. So when you are offered the chance to step back without the fear of a college admission looming over your head, we say take it! Of course, this is not to say that you should fail all your classes your senior year. But how much do those second semester grades really matter to the admissions office?
It’s important to remember that this heartwarming commentary is not about first semester grades. Unless you get in early, your first semester grades are going to matter. In fact, they are your most recent academic record! So, don’t start taking a senioritis pillow to class, and certainly don’t palm off your leadership positions yet.
For second semester, however, you have some more room. Here are a few “Do’s” and “Don’ts” about these last few months.
- Let your grades fall below a C! If you got into a top-tier school, chances are you aren’t a C student. Remember that the colleges you want to go to are accepting an A student. Colleges are sympathetic to a little bit of relaxation but Cs are barely passing in college, so don’t let it happen.
- Ignore warnings. If your grades are dropping too low, colleges will send you a warning. Take this seriously and make sure the admissions office knows that you care about their institution. Not paying heed to this warning can send the message that the school isn’t important enough to you and that obviously won’t work in your favor.
- Make teachers angry. Most schools give honors at the end of the year and at graduation. Many will also reward you for academic excellence in particular departments. Even if you were always an A+ student in math, if you suddenly stop caring, your teacher likely won’t find your case compelling. Keep in mind that these awards may contain scholarships. You may also need senior year teachers to write recommendation letters for pre-orientation programs or spring internships with early deadlines — your professors won’t know you yet. Make sure that you have at least two teachers who would be willing to testify to your reliability at the end of your senior year.
- Bother the administration. You’ve most likely always been a “good kid.” That’s why you’re going to go to a top-tier university. Do NOT go haywire yet! Avoid senior pranks or skip days if you know they could cause serious trouble. Obviously, don’t shy away from genuinely fun senior activities, but don’t get in trouble with administrators. Not only can this damage your chances of receiving accolades when you graduate or opportunities to speak at senior ceremonies, but it can also really color their opinion of you. In the worst-case scenario, an angry administrator can even notify your colleges. Finish high school strong; even if your grades slip slightly, there is no need to destroy your personal relationships, especially due to senioritis.
- Continue to work hard in important courses. Some classes that you take in high school can have a direct impact on the success of your first year. If you intend to take any math courses during your first semester, committing to learn the material in AP Calculus will ensure you have a strong background. Many introductory physics, chemistry, and biology courses also overlap extensively with the corresponding AP courses. Even if you don’t do all the homework, you should definitely learn the material — your first year will be enough of an adjustment without having to relearn physics. Set yourself up for success!
- Give yourself a break. Unless you’re getting Cs, it’s unlikely that your college admission will be rescinded. If you have consistently gotten A’s, you can hang out (or watch Netflix) next weekend and write that essay Sunday night. You don’t have to push yourself to get the top grade in the class — most of your teachers are expecting that their seniors will check out in January and begin taking 3-day weeks by March. They will likely decrease the workload anyway, and you simply doing the work at all will be enough to get through the end of the year.
- Enjoy your senior year! You have one semester left in high school. Next year, you will be letting go of the support system you have at home and heading to a new environment. Spend some time with the people you care about before you leave. Family and friends are just as, if not more important than, your academic pursuits. Take part in senior year activities and plan some of your own.
- Pass on club leadership. Become a mentor to students who you believe can take over your leadership positions. If you are not president of a club but are still on the board, speak to the president and staff sponsor about inducting new members to shadow graduating seniors. Spend one or two days training new board members and allow the new board to run the club. Act as a regular member, attending meetings and going to events with friends. This is a great way to stay involved while stepping back and will ultimately be good for the club’s longevity.
As you finish up senior year and get geared up for graduation, spend some time getting mentally prepared for college. The end of your senior year isn’t the end of your academic career — it’s just the beginning. So, spend some quality time with the people who have helped you get to this point (family and friends). Don’t let go of the valuable connections and knowledge that you may need to go forward. And don’t let senioritis erase years of hard work.
From us at CollegeVine, congrats! You’re graduating soon!
For more information on applying to college, check out these CollegeVine posts:
- A User’s Guide to the Common Application
- What Do I Do if I Forgot Part of My Application?
- How to Decide Where to Apply Early
- What is the Ideal Timeline for the College Application Process?
- What is the College Application Review Process Like? What Goes On Behind Closed Doors
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