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    Taking the “Itis” Out of Senioritis

    Posted May 20, 2014, 3:00 pm by Stephanie Klein Wassink
    Taking the “Itis” Out of Senioritis

    From his third floor window, Monseur Duree peered knowingly at the second semester seniors soaking up spring’s rays on the balcony below. “Bonjour Stephanie, will we see you today?” he asked in French. As if the idea of skipping class had never even crossed my mind, I asked, “Is it that time already?” I stumbled up to class. I was lucky…I had only a mild case of the dreaded senioritis. Honestly, is it really that serious? What is the absolute worst that could happen?

    Senioritis is Real and Dangerous

    An article appearing in the New York Times “The Choice” blog (May 10, 2013) notes that senioritis is real and dangerous. “Each year, colleges rescind offers to students whose grades plummeted after they were admitted.” The article goes on to quote Martha Merrill, dean of admissions at Connecticut College. She says, “Colleges require final grades for accepted students. Many students believe that only the first half of senior year ‘counts.’ Not true. At Connecticut College, we carefully review the senior-year progress of admitted students and require midterm and final grades to be sent to the office of admissions.”

    Given the fact that final grades are typically one of the main reasons acceptances are rescinded, I thought the following “top ten” list was in order.

    The top 10 ways parents and students can combat senioritis:

    1. Decide whether your senior is truly overwhelmed or simply under-motivated. If he is overwhelmed, perhaps this is a teaching moment. Can he delegate to other members in the extracurricular groups in which he participates or leads?

    2. If it is classic senioritis, share this newsletter with your senior.

    3. Save her from herself and take the car keys.

    4. Prepare your senior early for the final step of the application process—the second semester of his senior year. Remind him of the mid-year report his high school will send to his new college.

    5. FEAR can be a huge motivator. Ask your senior to imagine watching all of her friends leaving for their schools in August, while she starts the college application process all over again.

    6. If he could not pull himself out of the senior slump and his grades are negatively impacted, it is better that he be proactive and contact the schools regarding the drop in his grades. An explanation is better than hoping they won’t notice.

    7. Don’t try the bait and switch…don’t list the 4 APs you are planning to take on the application you send in the fall and then drop out of three of them. Your school will notice.

    8. Remember that most schools word your acceptance decision as conditional upon good grades in the final semester of your senior year.

    9. More severe cases of “senioritis” can involve “lapses in judgment or integrity, such as cheating, plagiarism, drinking, or drug use.” Your high school is OBLIGATED to report such mistakes…senioritis or not. 10. In a recent speech called, “Who Get In?” Dean James Miller of Brown University (formerly of Head of Admissions at Harvard and Bowdoin) noted that for some reason, in addition to poor judgment on social networking sites, the band trip seems to be another place where students show poor judgment and tend to have their admissions offers rescinded. You are almost done. Be Careful and Smart.

    Above all, use common sense in your behavior and remain diligent academically.

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    Stephanie Klein Wassink

    Stephanie Klein Wassink

    Stephanie Klein Wassink is the founder of Winning Applications and AdmissionsCheckup.com. She has 15 years experience in college consulting and holds a B.A. from Brown University and an M.B.A. from University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. She is a member of IECA and NACAC.