Skip to main content

Admitted at ED?: advice for approaching the rest of your senior year

Posted by on Friday, January 16, 2009 in Application Process, I've been admitted - now what?, Mid-Year Reports, Preparing for College.

Growing up, whenever my brother and I would get to slapping each other in the back of the ’85 silver family Pontiac on long trips, my dad used to bellow “don’t make me stop this car!!”  Thing was, we knew he would never do it because stopping the car to lay into us meant sacrificing the ever compelling need to make great time.  It was a Captain Ahab-like crusade for maximum interstate efficiency and nothing would deter the man.

So to breach the topic of rescinding offers of admission because an admitted student phoned in the remainder of their senior year, I want to intentionally set a contrast with this allegory.  When we say in the admission letter:  “Please note that your enrollment at Vanderbilt is contingent upon graduating from high school with your class, and maintaining your current level of academic performance and good citizenship” it is another way of saying, “don’t make us stop this car” (and it’s not like it was in the family Pontiac, even though it is rare, it has happened before).

All admitted students to Vanderbilt will be asked to submit a final transcript once it comes available and it never fails that we see a very small handful of students who packed up the intellectual circus a little early that last semester.  At that point our office has a decision to make, and it is a no-one-size-fits-all determination.  My general advice is succinct, if not completely predictable, don’t risk it.  You’re smart people, you’ve been successful in school and in life for a while now, what’s one more semester (plus eight actually, or twelve for a masters, or sixteen for the M.D., or . . . well, you get my point)?

  • If you are applying ED2 or Regular, you are encouraged to send in a mid-year report (you can find on Common App).  Although it is not required, it can be helpful to us in our admissions review.  If you’ve been admitted under ED1, there’s no need to submit a mid-year report.
  • There’s no magic GPA line in the sand. 
  • A common question often revolves around lightening the academic rigor in that last semester.  Again there is no-one-size-fits-all approach but our philosophy centers around the idea that since the rigor of your course schedule plays such an important role in the intial admit decision, we would still like to see you challenging yourself throughout the remainder of high school.  This is more about you being better prepared for the rigors of the Vanderbilt classroom than it is just “getting in.”

Have a great weekend.

Tags: , , , , , ,


  • Hillary

    January 16th, 2009

    I love the way you always use an anecdote to later emphasize a point. Reminds me of the prompts I’d get in AP Lang last year. Fun stuff!

    In response to… ‘This is more about you being better prepared for the rigors of the Vanderbilt classroom than it is just “getting in”…’

    …one of my senior friends last year got into Cornell and told me that she was so stoaked about it. I congratulated her and cheerfully said something along the lines of “I hope you enjoy being in a place where everyone is brilliant and wonderful! I’m sure you’ll love the academically challenging classes as well! You’ll get one hell of an education; milk it for all its worth!”

    Then it hit her. She realized that she was no longer a big fish in a small pond. And that she has only gone over one small hurdle in life, only to come across an even bigger one. From that, I then understood that all she really wanted was to get in [I guess out of pride of saying you got into a big name school], and didn’t quite realize that difficult classes come with getting into an elite school. And it seemed she burned out on high school in order to just “get in.” Now she makes mediocre grades and could be much happier.

    Sad story. But apparently this situation happens more than people know it. I guess it’s what you get for applying to schools out of their name, and not out of their fit in the school.

  • Matt

    January 20th, 2009

    Hillary, yeah, I have a few friends that go to Cornell, and they are all stressed out of their minds. They have all told me that gorge just calls their name during exams and stressful points throughout the year. Cornell is an excellent university, but also an EXTREMELY stressful one.

    OK. Onto why I’m really commenting here. I have been admitted to Vanderbilt ED1 and am not really worried about being rescinded, but rather am worried about looking worse in the eyes of the admissions committee. My senior year classes are, admittedly, the most difficult in my school, and I’m trying very hard in each. However, my grades in my AP courses (which is most of them) all hover in the B range. I won’t say senioritis has had no effect on me, because it has, but really nothing too major. I am still trying as hard as I always have, but due to the rigors of the courses (particularly AP Calculus), my grades are slipping a bit. Before this year, I believe I had only two Bs in all of high school (both in math classes). Would this affect my admission in anyway and do you take the difficulty of courses into account when reviewing final grades of admitted students at the end of the year?

  • Thom

    January 20th, 2009

    Matt, your situation illustrates why a holistic review and decision making process is so important. We will absolutely factor in the difficulty of your course load when reviewing your final grades. We are also aware that we routinely encourage students to take these more challenging classes in the first place. It would be somehwat duplicitous of us to do so, and then fail to consider this fact when analyzing the grades you receive in them. Whereas holism in the admissions process provides flexibility, it also insists on vagueness on my part in being able to convey to you exactly how our decision process will turn out (it’s what makes highly selective admissions so frustrating from the student’s end, I am sure). I can tell you Matt that most students in our incoming class have a mix of A’s and B’s (more A’s than B’s), not as many C’s and D’s. Consider this as a very general guideline to how we might view a final transcript. Hope this helps. Thanks again.

  • Lily

    April 5th, 2009

    I got a couple of C’s in 3rd quarter grades, which I’m sure I could pull up to A’s in 4th quarter.. Does Vanderbilt look at each quarter, or just how you did in the whole semester??
    My friend also got admitted to Vanderbilt, but she’s really scared because she got a D in AP Calculus BC, what should I tell her? She, like me, is going to try really hard to pull up her grades for 4th quarter so her semester grade will be (hopefully) at a B.

    BTW: only the semester grades count towards gpa, the quarter grades are just shown on the transcripts, they don’t count.