NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Colleges React To "Senioritis"

March 30, 2000

Some colleges are denying admission to high school students whose grades markedly decline in their senior year -- even students who have already been accepted. The phenomenon known as "senioritis" describes a general abandonment of effort and study by seniors after they have received their letters of acceptance from the college or university of their choice -- on the mistaken assumption that they are guaranteed a place in the entering class.

  • While most colleges have always reserved the right to revoke admissions, a growing number are exercising that right as more students catch senioritis -- thereby wasting nearly a year of schooling.
  • Some colleges now comb midyear and final grades in search of signs that students they admitted have dropped difficult college-prep courses or stopped participating in extracurricular activities.
  • College officials think they see a correlation between slacking high school seniors and floundering first-year students.
  • There are also ethical considerations -- officials at Minnesota's Carleton College, for example, inform such students: "We are concerned not only about your academic motivation but also about your ability to keep your word and follow through on commitments you make."

Colleges send warning letters to students they fear are coasting. Experts report that such "wake-up calls" are usually sufficient to get them back on track. But there are students who ignore the warnings and those are the ones without a slot in the freshman class.

Source: Mary Beth Marklein, "Admission Denied," USA Today, March 30, 2000.


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