HomeCollege Admissions“Do Colleges Really Look at Senior Grades?”

Dear Estelle. Is it true that colleges don’t really look at senior grades? Most of my friends, all juniors, feel they’ve worked hard in school and can “let up” a little senior year. After completing 11th grade they will have completed most of their high school requirements, 3 years of language, 3 years of math and lab sciences, and would like to have a little less demanding schedule next year so they can work (and play a little more.) We will be registering soon for senior classes and have agreed to ask your opinion on this issue.  Jon, Arapahoe HS

Many juniors face this dilemma as they begin registering for senior year classes. My national organization, IECA, the Independent Educational Consultants Association, has just completed a survey of its members. We came up with a “new” Top Ten List for 2007 of what colleges seek in their applicants. Heading the list for the 3rd straight year is “A rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student and may include AP or IB classes.”

If you think you don’t have to take any more challenging courses, think again. Most selective colleges regard senior year as very important and frequently in decision making, wait until after mid-year grades are in to make final decisions about acceptances. So plan to have the competitive edge with a strong senior year experience. Regardless of whether you’ve completed your requirements, choose challenging courses. That says a lot about your passion for learning. Also consider this when selecting your classes. Is it better to take an easier course and get an “A” or a harder course where you can do the work but might receive a “B”? Definitely, take the harder course and get an “A.”

Regarding your interest in working don’t over schedule yourself senior year. Get a job but don’t let your work schedule “subvert your class work.”

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