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Articles / Applying to College / Are Mid-Year Reports Just a Formality?

Jan. 17, 2020

Are Mid-Year Reports Just a Formality?

Are Mid-Year Reports Just a Formality?

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I have a question about mid-year reports. I've already been accepted to one school, which is requesting a mid-year report. There's another college that I haven't gotten into yet (I won't hear until April 1) and they also want one. And then I got deferred from a school that's also requesting the mid-year. So basically I have to send it for three different situations. My grades in the fall were not amazing (they weren't terrible but they weren't as good as the grades I applied with) so will this impact any of these decisions or is it just a paperwork formality?


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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Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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