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Nothing can kill your “I’m a graduated senior” summer vibes quite like getting your admission offer withdrawn from your future college. It’s the part of the acceptance letter after the “Congratulations, you’re in!” line that nobody really pays much attention to: “offer of admission contingent upon continued academic performance.” But that last line can truly be the kiss of death that senioritis plagued seniors can fall victim to all too easily. But they never quite specify what exactly will get you rescinded…a few B’s, a smattering of C’s, or a straight up D or F? This uncertainty leaves a lot of seniors with an unsettling feeling.

Because let’s be real, what’s the point of being a second semester senior if you can’t reap all the benefits from the four years of high school you just survived? With all the senior activities and impending graduation, it’s easy to let loose a little. You deserve to enjoy yourself and not stress about your grades, but make sure to straddle the right line in doing so with moderation and good judgment. So what does it take to get rescinded, or what should you avoid at all costs?

Get some D’s and F’s on your transcript

There’s no unanimous consensus on what kind of grades or GPA will get an admitted student’s offer revoked (thus explains the hundreds of “SOS! AM I GOING TO GET RESCINDED FROM _______?” posts you see on College Confidential or your admitted students group page). However, the rule-of-thumb seems to be don’t drop drastically from your typical grades, i.e. if you’re a B-student and get a few C’s, it’s different that being a straight-A student and getting several C’s. It’s very much a case-by-case basis with admissions officers considering factors like course rigor, previous grades, etc. Another general rule is that D’s and F’s on your final transcript are a huge red flag for colleges. Failing a class is an indication of something gone wrong.

The easiest way to know for sure is calling up your admissions office and asking. Of course, this might be awkward conversation if you ask it with the attitude of “what’s the absolute bare minimum I can do and still go to your school?” You should only be inquiring this if you’re genuinely concerned that a slip-up is going to cost you.

If you’re freaking out a lot, you can take some comfort in the fact that what’s much more common than an actual rescinding of admissions seems to be “warning letters.” In fact, deans of admissions from several top colleges cite rescinding of admissions in the dozens for bigger schools (University of California Schools typically rescind 50 decisions) and less for smaller private schools (one or two at Northwestern University and just two in several years at Reed College).

Many colleges have a system like Bowdoin College – a “spectrum” of warning letters. “Students who have a slight decline get a letter noting our disappointment that their grades are different from the grades on which they were admitted. For students who’ve had a larger decline, we ask them to write back with their comments and explanation. For the more serious, we tell them we’re going to review the case and decide if we are still offering admission, and in the most serious, we sometimes revoke the offer.’’

Be sneaky and switch into easy classes and hope nobody notices

If you switch all your AP and honors courses for the easier alternatives or drop difficult classes altogether, you’re not fooling admissions officers. Many schools require that you notify them of any changes in class schedules or dropping of classes from the original transcript you are admitted on the basis of. Don’t think switching to an easy track is a clever trick to avoid work.

…And don’t have any justifiable reasons for it

If your academic performance drops or you drastically change your course load, you should have a justifiable reason for it. Justifiable reasons include family illnesses, health issues, and other serious concerns such as these. Write a letter to the admissions office outlining the reason for the drop and they are typically willing to work with students.

Do something stupid at an admitted students weekend

Admitted students weekends are awesome–it’s when schools are on the opposite side of the table and are trying to woo and impress you into enrolling. There will be free meals, tons of fun activities, and typically overnights with current students. For a lot of high school seniors, this may be the first taste of freedom on a college campus. Don’t try to turn this into an opportunity to go to your first “college party” or drink and smoke with current students. Even when they invite you to do so. Because you signed a waiver of responsibility in your overnight, the fine print includes the right of the school to revoke admissions offer due to inappropriate behavior. Keep in mind that you only have to wait three months until you’re on campus in the fall at which point you can make the choice to go to parties and all that jazz if you’re interested in doing so. Seriously if you’re planning on it, just wait a few weeks instead of getting rescinded before you even had a chance to move in.

Get suspended or better yet…arrested

The lure of senior pranks, partying, and ditching school can be quite potent. Honestly, if you’re smart enough to get into college, you’re smart enough to know what crosses the line. Don’t ditch school regularly, don’t get caught perpetrating a huge senior prank, don’t get in trouble with your school or law enforcement.

You’ve made it thus far in your life, you survived high school, but more impressively you survived admissions season. Don’t give up countless hours of working towards a beautiful college experience in favor of moments of laziness and stupidity. But also, don’t stress out unnecessarily over every grade you get. Enjoy yourself and the last few weeks as a high school student…just be smart about it.



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the author

Jilliann Pak hails from the suburbs of SoCal but is currently attending school across the coast at Johns Hopkins University. When she’s not complaining about the cold weather or sleeping in the library, she’s probably eating, cuddled up into a blanket burrito, or watching Parks and Recreation, preferably all at once.

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