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Articles / Applying to College / Will Colleges Count Senior Grades for Post-Gap Applicant?

June 5, 2016

Will Colleges Count Senior Grades for Post-Gap Applicant?

Question: So I have been told many times that Colleges will only look at GPA through Junior year. I was wondering if taking a gap year then applying to colleges if they would look at my GPA after Senior year. My GPA as it is in Junior year isn't the greatest, but the classes I am taking senior year are all Advanced classes that interest me and I know I can get A's in all of them.

It sounds like you're tuned into the wrong grapevine. Colleges DO pay close attention to senior grades, especially those from the first semester. Granted, this isn't true for all candidates to all colleges, because most Early Action and Early Decision Round I verdicts are issued before first-semester grades are posted, as are many Rolling Admission verdicts. But, commonly, admission officials will ask high school counselors for first-quarter senior grades before determining admission outcomes in the fall. (And colleges scrutinize senior grades at the end of the school year and will rescind decisions … even as late as July … if these grades have plummeted since the student applied.)


While a strong 12th grade transcript won't make up entirely for a weak 11th, it can certainly help a lot, especially if your curriculum is rigorous. Admission folks do like to see what they call “the rising record," and if you can sustain improved grades throughout all of your senior year, it will definitely work in your favor if you wait until next fall or winter to submit your applications.

If it doesn't interfere with your gap-year plans, you might also consider taking a class or two at a community college or other convenient four-year school (as a non-matriculated student … meaning that you aren't enrolled in a degree program). Top grades at the college level can also help to reinforce your upward trend. BUT … tread cautiously. Some colleges put strict limits on the number of classes that a candidate can take during a gap year without having to apply as a transfer. So if you are considering taking classes during your time off, check the policies at your front-runner colleges before committing. (Note also that, even though many colleges will allow you to take classes, they may not accept your credits. So this is something else you need to check, if getting credit is among your goals.)

“The Dean" is a big fan of gap years … at least for students who are excited about taking one and who have solid plans in place. So best wishes to you as you tackle your senior classes and chart your course beyond 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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