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College Prep and the Perils of Senior Slump

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It’s been a long-accepted tradition in the college admissions game for students to pass the final semester of high school languishing in gym and electives. With the pressure of entrance exams and college acceptance behind you, and the goal of all your college planning within reach, it seems only natural to take a break and enjoy the sunset days of high school before heading off to the rigors of college, right? Wrong!

Though tempting, beware falling into this pattern. An increasing number of colleges are now reviewing final transcripts of incoming freshman and in some cases, rescinding letters of acceptance in the summer prior to starting college.

The lasting effects of losing track of your college plan

Research indicates that “senior slump” is more than just a well-deserved break for hard-working students before they go to college. In fact, slacking on core skills during the final months of high school has been shown to place you at a disadvantage when it comes to being prepared for the demands once you get into college. This results in a higher dropout rate for seniors who “vacationed” in their final high school days.

Not yet convinced? Slacking off during your senior year also leads to poor performance on freshman placement exams; it’s estimated that 50 to 60 percent of incoming freshmen end up completing remedial work in their first year just to regain their skills in core topics such as math. If you don’t truly need the extra help, this is a waste of your time and money. And it is a poor return on all the effort you put into your college prep.

Don’t let it happen to you; get into college and stay there!
Colleges are catching on to these trends and are using diminished performance during senior year as a basis for rescinding admission offers or for holding students’ feet to the fire until their grades improve. This may hold especially true for overcrowded or highly competitive colleges that need to trim down their pool of incoming freshman. While this is not yet the norm, you should consider it motivation to continue getting good grades throughout senior year so your college planning efforts aren't wasted.

College is what you’ve been working toward throughout your years of school and college prep. Don’t let getting your acceptance letter undermine all your hard work. Sure, it’s tempting to kick back for a few. Maybe you’re bored. Maybe you feel you’ve paid your dues. But with the potential consequences, it’s just not worth it. It’s just a few more months. You can do it!

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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