Jan. 17, 2020
It's common for colleges — especially the more selective ones — to request mid-year reports from their applicants and to use these reports when making decisions. Although the grapevine often proclaims that junior grades are the ones that "count," the truth is that senior grades — at least those earned in the first semester — can be equally important.
In your case, the good news is that — even if your current grades aren't quite as good as those on your applications — if they're still roughly in the same ballpark and haven't tumbled significantly, you should be fine at the college that already accepted you.
But the bad news is that a decline in senior grades — even a fairly small one — might have a negative effect on your decision at the college that won't notify you until April, and especially at the one that has already deferred you. The latter school, in particular, will be looking for improvement that might push your application out of the "Maybe" pile and into "Yes." So even a small downturn may work against you.
On the other hand, admission officials — at both of these places where your final outcome is still pending — won't be viewing these senior grades in a vacuum. They'll be considering them in the context of your entire transcript and will be examining your senior classes to see if they are just as rigorous — or perhaps more rigorous — than previous ones. In other words, if your grades this fall dipped down a bit but you're taking more AP classes or other more demanding options than you have in the past, this downturn may not hurt you at all. Similarly, although your senior grades aren't "amazing," the college folks will be evaluating you "holistically," which means they'll be asking themselves, "What else will this student bring to campus that we want and need?" So your status as a class leader or sousaphone player or male from Montana might benefit you here, even if your senior grades won't elicit any "Wows!"
Bottom line: Mid-year senior grades are definitely not "a paperwork formality," but just how much your grades will impact your decisions is impossible to predict. Good luck!
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