Senior Year Advice: Prepare and Set a Strong Schedule before College
As a high school junior planning to attend an elite college, you need to achieve impressive results by taking on an academically challenging schedule in your senior year. If you do it right, senior year will be just as challenging – if not more so – than junior year. Although this may be unwelcome news, it will boost your competitive stature in the admissions process for top-tier schools.
You have worked hard to earn high grades while fulfilling core requirements, so a senior schedule of easy classes might seem to be a well-earned respite before the stress of a highly competitive college. But taking an easy schedule would be a mistake. You need to impress college admissions officials with your entire high school career and your desire to learn… right through to the end.
Although you should take classes that show your commitment to learning, you need to avoid taking so many difficult courses that they drag down your GPA… because the worst can happen. Even after a college accepts you, you commit to them, and you pay your deposit, things can still turn ugly. There’s one last obstacle — you need to finish senior year with grades similar to those that earned admission. There will be “small print” in your letter of acceptance to the effect that admission is conditional upon your completion of high school with the same level of academic achievement as that upon which the offer was based.
They mean it. Top-tier colleges are highly competitive and have waiting lists of qualified students for each freshman class. Colleges are not reluctant to rescind an offer to a student whose grades have plummeted after they were admitted. One poor grade may not have serious repercussions, but C’s or D’s on a transcript that had been mostly A’s could prompt a college to rescind their offer, an extremely unpleasant outcome for you since your other offers of acceptance will have expired.
There is no ideal senior year academic schedule. IvySelect has guidelines that help you to devise a schedule that will strike a balance between the potential for additional academic achievement on the one hand while minimizing GPA risk on the other. Your IvySelect college admissions consultant has the expertise to advise you successfully through this process.
IvySelect’s principal recommendations concerning senior year schedules are noted below:
- Stay Core Focused – Take at least 4 core courses. A schedule with 5 core courses is preferred. Do not forego more than one core subject area.
- Continue with AP Classes – If you are taking AP courses in junior year, then sign up for a group of AP classes for senior year. AP courses help your cause substantially. They help even more if you prove what you’ve learned by taking the AP placement exams. You may score well enough to earn advance credits at the college that you ultimately attend.
- Pursue Interests as Electives – Take this opportunity to learn a new subject that interests you or that will be useful to you, such as Public Speaking or Information Technology. However, you will probably be constrained by the limited availability of desirable courses at your school.
- College Level Classes – If your local community college is conveniently located and credit can be transferred to your high school record, consider taking a course during fall semester. This will demonstrate two characteristics that admissions officials like to see: your ability to do college work and your dedication to learning. You may also receive credit for these courses from your ultimate college.
- Activities Remain Important – Continue to engage in those extracurricular and non-school activities that contribute to making your case that you will be a valuable addition to your college’s community.
Our recommendations assume that, in following them, you will not risk sacrificing your GPA. Maintaining high grades is as important as the course schedule itself. You should never give admissions officials reason to doubt your ongoing dedication to academic rigor and excellence.
Your personal IvySelect college consultant will advise you through the complicated process of setting up the best senior schedule for you. We are dedicated to your success in gaining acceptance at the elite colleges of your choice.