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Articles / Applying to College / How Do Weak Final Senior Grades Affect Admission Decisions?

Oct. 19, 2004

How Do Weak Final Senior Grades Affect Admission Decisions?

Question: Will the college I choose to attend ask for my final transcript in June? If I didn't do too well in the second semester (perhaps a low grade in AP Calc AB), will they take back my acceptance?

Colleges will insist on a final transcript from your high school, but they do not like to rescind offers of admission. Most do so only in extreme circumstances. If, for instance, you are ordinarily an "A" or "B" student and you get a "C" in one class in your last semester, that won't cause any problem at all. Even a "D" (or perhaps an "F") in a tough course like AP Calc probably won't hurt you. If your guidance counselor or teacher writes and explains that you tried very hard but just couldn't catch on, it will work in your favor.


When colleges ask for final transcripts, they are primarily checking to make sure that their admitted applicants didn't start partying the minute the fat acceptance letters arrived in the mailbox. Similarly, they are looking for signs of health or emotional concerns that might follow the candidate to campus (e.g, when an otherwise strong student finishes the year with several C's or D's, admission officials see that as a red flag that something beyond senioritis might be the cause).

If you feel you're already losing ground in your calc class, we recommend that you not wait until the spring to take action. Discuss with your teacher ways that you can get extra help--or extra credit--so you won't risk your admission acceptances. Such signs of early initiative on your part should put admission officials in your corner next June, if you need it.

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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