Do Colleges Look at Your Senior Year Grades?

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Are you a high school student curious about whether your senior year grades will matter? Are you wondering what grades colleges look at the most? You have come to the right place if you can answer yes to either of these questions.

If you plan on going to college, planning is the key to getting into the school of your desire. If you are diligent, your planning for college will begin your freshman year of high school. This is when you begin to chart out a course load that is rigorous and manageable.

We will help you better understand what courses most colleges look at, the importance of your grades, and how colleges factor them into your admission. All you need to do to get this information and more is to keep reading.

Do Colleges Look at High School Grades?Do Colleges Look at High School Grades?

The short answer to this question is yes. Your high school grades are a major part of your admission into college. Your grades will ultimately make or break the schools that you are eligible for. In addition to looking at your extracurriculars and test scores, your individual course grades and overall grade point average are significant factors.

Though how you performed is important, what courses you performed well in and your academic level is also important. Some schools want to see that the courses you did well in forced you to apply yourself and give additional effort. An A in honors golf differs from getting the same grade in honors chemistry. Your high school grades are generally a college’s first introduction to you, and you want to ensure they are strong.

Applying for colleges will generally begin the summer before your senior year of college. It will give you time to decide where to go and determine the academic requirements. With this in mind, another question may arise: “Do colleges look at senior-year grades?” Similarly, “Do colleges look at senior year grades for early action?”

Do Colleges Look at Your Senior Grades?

Do Colleges Look at Your Senior Grades?

Though you may be ready to get a much-needed break from focusing on schoolwork and a chance to slack off, your senior year will likely not be it. Colleges not only look at your senior year grades but also consider them. Your senior year grades must remain a reflection of the academic excellence you demonstrated to be accepted into the university.

Importance of Senior Year Grades

Importance of Senior Year Grades

Your senior year grades are the cherry on top of the sundae that is your high school education and, therefore, can impact your overall GPA. In a nutshell, it is extremely important. Your senior year grade gives the college a picture of your academic abilities and aids in letting them know how you could be an asset or even a liability at their university.

This is especially important for students who are set to receive scholarship funds from their prospective university or a private entity. Though your senior year grades may not have been a determining factor in eligibility for the scholarship application, finishing your high school tenure strong is generally a requirement. Some schools will decrease or rescind merit scholarship offers based on your final performance.

Will Your Grades in Senior Year Affect College Application?

Will Your Grades in Senior Year Affect College Application?

Your grades are not only important for scholarship and GPA purposes; having a GPA that drastically negatively impacts your GPA may mean your college acceptance may be impacted as well. Your acceptance to college is based on your successful completion of high school. If you decide to slack off and get a D or an F, your acceptance can be rescinded.

Additionally, if you are a student who has found yourself on the waitlist for your dream school, your overall GPA can aid in moving you off of this list. However, negative grades can hurt you as much as they can help you. It is important to remember that even if you have been admitted early action or decision to a school, many will also request a copy of your senior year grades.

9 Factors Colleges Typically Consider When Evaluating High School Grades

9 Factors Colleges Typically Consider When Evaluating High School Grades

It may be obvious that your grades are a factor in your admission. However, you may not understand why or what the university may be looking for when they see your transcript. This section will answer that question and provide seven things colleges look at when evaluating your high school grades. The following list will help you to understand what colleges are looking for and their importance when evaluating grades for admission. Statistics have been taken from the National Association of College Admission Counselors to provide statistical evidence.

Does your curriculum challenge you?

Schools want to see that you can maintain a competitive GPA with a challenging curriculum. Of course, having a higher GPA is easier when you have all low-level courses. Schools also want to see what classes you will choose to take beyond the base curriculum. The strength of your curriculum has considerable importance to 64% of the national colleges and universities.

Did you take any AP or Honours Classes?

To have a truly challenging curriculum, colleges expect to see some challenging courses within your curriculum. Advanced Placement, dual enrollment, International Baccalaureate, and honors-level courses are encouraged for students looking to break into some of the top schools.

Your grades matter most.

One of the most important things you can do during high school is get great grades. Your actual grades are one of the most important factors in your admissions package. According to the NACAC, 74% of colleges hold considerable importance for their total grades in all courses. Though still high, this percentage decreases as you begin to split up the categories of grades. 77% of colleges hold considerable importance to your grades in college prep courses.

Did your grades change over time?

Another thing that colleges want to see is if your grades are consistent or if you have showcased any notable improvement throughout your high school tenure. Getting acclimated to how high school operates may take longer for some students than others. This may also mean that a student’s grades may not be the best during their freshman year. Admission counselors want to see students grow from their freshman year.

Junior & Senior Year

Your junior and senior are the two most important years in your high school tenure. Schools will often look at your junior year grades to aid in predicting your senior grades. The theory is if you did well during your junior year and, even better, have a track record of consistency, you will likely do well during your senior year.

When sending your transcripts, your junior year grades and, most likely, the first quarter of your senior year grades will be available. Junior year is extremely important for ensuring you get the offers you seek when college admission season begins.

What about the Core Courses?

Core courses are a baseline of classes colleges will require students eligible for admission to complete. These courses ensure that students have a level playing field in core courses. The College Board recommends taking the following combination of courses to ensure that you have met the general college requirements for admission.

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of math are standard; however, four years of math is suggested if applying to highly selective schools.
  • 3 years of science
  • 4 years of social studies
  • 2 years of a foreign language

What if my school didn’t offer that class?

Don’t worry; you will not be penalized for things that your school does not offer you. The college you are applying to will receive a profile about your school before they receive any information about you. This profile will generally include what courses are available for you to take.

What are you looking to major in?

Depending on what you are looking to go to school for, the importance of certain subjects within your curriculum will vary. For example, if you are a student attending art or film school, your grades in your AP calculus class may not be as relevant. The same will happen on the reverse. Harvard may feel like your baking course could have been substituted for something better.

Are there outside circumstances that may have affected your grades?

Though it may not be true for all schools, your transcript generally includes disciplinary actions. Some schools will equate these disruptions to potential dips in academic performance. If you are someone who has had disciplinary issues in the past, check with your school to determine what is on your transcript. This will allow you to have the opportunity to explain your grades in potential questions or essays that are meant to accompany your application.

Wrapping Things Up: Do Colleges Look at Senior Year Grades?

To summarize, yes, colleges look at your senior-year grades. They look at them and evaluate them to determine if you are still a match for their institution. Your senior year grades are the final piece to college acceptance and often any scholarship decisions. They will be irrelevant only after they have been officially finalized and you graduate, waving high school goodbye.

However, it’s important to remember that colleges do not only look at your letter grade. They also look at the rigor of your curriculum, the academic level of your classes, and even trends in your performance.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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