Timothy Peck 4 min read 12th Grade, College Application Tips

What is the Mid-Year Report in College Admissions?

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For many students, the heavy lifting of high school is over by senior year and thoughts turn to college—at first, filling out applications; later, anxiously awaiting admissions decisions; and finally, envisioning themselves on campus. 

 

All that said, students shouldn’t slack off once their applications are in, as many schools require a mid-year or final report. Here’s what you need to know about this application component.

 

What is the Mid-Year Report?

 

A mid-year report provides colleges an update on their applicants. High school counselors submit the reports directly to colleges after first semester grades are posted. Not every college needs a mid-year report, although they are a common obligation at selective private colleges. 

 

Students using the Common App can see which schools require a mid-year report by looking in the “School Forms Required” section. On the Coalition Application, each school will also list out their required forms. If you applied using a school-specific portal, check that portal or the school website for more details.

 

What is Included in a Mid-Year Report? 

 

Academics are the primary focus of mid-year reports. In general, colleges want an updated transcript. Depending on the school, more information may be required. For example, the Common App mid-year report asks counselors about changes to a student’s schedule, disciplinary record, or criminal status, which is a good incentive to avoid dropping classes, piling up tardies, and getting in trouble with the law. 

 

The Common App does not send a reminder to complete a mid-year report—it’s the student’s responsibility to ensure that their counselor is aware of it. It’s uncommon for students to get penalized for inefficient school staff and administrative delays outside of their control, but it’s not unheard of for a college to pass over a student who doesn’t have all the required application materials submitted on time. Mid-year report due dates differ between schools. For example:

 

  • Stanford: “A midyear transcript is due by February 15.”
  • The University of Chicago: “Counselors should also submit a midyear report with grades or transcript for a student’s first semester or first trimester by February 1 or as soon as possible thereafter.” 
  • The University of Washington St. Louis: “Washington University needs to see your progress in your senior year. If your school issues quarter or trimester grades, please have your school send them.”
  • Harvard: “Please request that the midyear school report is completed and returned to our office as soon as possible.” 
  • Middlebury: “Final decisions will not be made without some form of senior grades.” 
  • Vassar: “A mid-year report with first semester grades is required when available, typically by February 1.”

 

Although mid-year reports play a role in the application process at many excellent schools, they are not a fixture at every institution. Many public colleges, like those in the UC System—which includes highly ranked UCLA and UC Berkeley—don’t require mid-year reports. 

 

How Important is a Mid-Year Report?

 

The value of a mid-year report depends on a student’s status and the school—for some, it can sink their chances at their dream school while it can buoy the admissions odds of others. One thing that is universal, however, is that colleges like to see students with a clean academic and disciplinary record. 

 

A major negative change in a student’s admissions profile can lead to everything from a rescinded acceptance to being put on probation upon entry into college. 

 

Early Decision/Early Acceptance Schools 

  

A mid-year report has little benefit to ED/EA students since they’ve already been accepted and there is no need to further impress admissions officers. While there’s little benefit of mid-year reports for ED/EA students, there can be a downside—students should be sure they don’t grab an admissions officer’s attention for all the wrong reasons, like dropping grades, disciplinary issues, or trouble with the law. 

 

Regular Decision Students

 

For regular admissions students, the mid-year report can either give their application a push over the top, or put an end to their chances of admission at a particular school. It gives borderline candidates an opportunity to show improvement, highlight an upward academic trajectory, spotlight a new athletic achievement (for example, making captain of a spring sport team), and call attention to additional distinctions. Conversely, a negative mid-year report can serve as the excuse an admissions officer needed to pass on a candidate. 

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How to Send Your Mid-Year Report

 

Students cannot send their mid-year report in themselves, it must be done by a high school counselor. Every school has a different process for facilitating mid-year reports—as mentioned earlier, some schools send them regardless of whether or not they’re requested. It’s advisable that students provide their counselors with a list of schools that require a mid-year report in advance of their due date. The more time a counselor has to complete the form, the better. 

 

What if My Grades Dropped?

 

“Senioritis” is not a message students want to send to colleges—it makes colleges question how serious a student is about academics and how successful they’ll be on a college campus. While schools will rescind acceptances, it’s not something they want to do and a student’s grades have to drop sharply for it to happen.  

 

Rescinding an offer is the nuclear option for colleges. It’s more common that a school will send a student a warning letter—many of which ask the student to follow up with an explanation for why their grades have fallen and what they’re doing to correct the situation. No matter the reasons for a student’s drop in grades, they should reply to colleges with an honest and sincere explanation and a detailed course of action for how they plan to get back on track. 

 

It’s worth noting that colleges are receptive to the challenges facing students; however, they’re more understanding of students facing extenuating circumstances, like illness or family issues, than students who simply decided to kick back senior year. 

 

Have a question about the mid-year report at a particular school? Wondering how a drop in your grades first semester of senior year will affect your odds at a certain institution? Ask an expert or your peers on CollegeVine’s Question & Answer Forum! The Q&A forum works on Karma—the more help you give others on the forum, the more expert access you’re given.

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.