Weekly College Column

Don’t catch “Senioritis”

I received an interesting telephone call this past Friday; it was mid-morning. The call was from a student of mine, a senior. She already knows she’ll be attending the University of Tennessee this fall. After our initial greetings, she told me she was selling knives; fancy knives. If anyone can sell knives via telephone and then an in-person demo, it is this girl. She is, just as she described herself, “ a natural-born salesperson.”

While I wasn’t in the market for knives, I was curious why she was calling me in the middle of her school day. I became a little concerned when she mentioned that she was investing a lot of time in her sales training. I asked her how her classes were going this semester and she informed me that while she maintained a full load first semester, this spring she has both “late-arrival” and “early dismissal” – which means that she is only in school each day for two periods. Sounds like she has already checked out of high school and moved on.

Second-semester senior year can be challenging, especially for students who feel that they’re ready for their next chapter. High school can seem “boring” and the same old routine. Taking a lighter load second semester isn’t always a bad thing. I have worked with some students who have completed all their credits and have found incredible internship opportunities. How a student chooses to spend their time is what is most important to colleges. Colleges and universities want to be certain that students don’t fall into a “senior slump” and assume that since they are already in, their grades no longer matter.

Every year some students get a little too relaxed and cling to a false sense of teenage invulnerability. And every year colleges across the country revoke a small number of their acceptances to shocked students. Students and families need to read the acceptance letters carefully. Colleges are very forthcoming with language that essentially says “your final acceptance is contingent on you maintaining your current grades and coursework.” This is not to say that if a student drops from “A” to a “B” in one or two classes, their acceptance will be revoked, but those are not the students to be concerned about. There are many students who no longer acknowledge the need to even go to school, complete their assignments, take tests, or participate in class discussions. These are the students who are on the short-list for review by colleges.

What should seniors be doing in their last semester in high school?

  • Stay focused on your schoolwork.
  • Apply for scholarships. Meet with your guidance counselor to identify the best scholarship opportunities.
  • Submit any additional financial aid forms and documentation that is required by the school of your choice.
  • Review your financial aid award letter with your parents and be sure that you understand the terms and conditions that accompany each kind of aid. Sign it and return it to the school.
  • Send your first-semester transcript to the schools you’re still considering.
  • Proof your SAR (Student Aid Report). This is the information you receive back after the FAFSA is processed. If any portion of the information on the SAR is incorrect, correct it and resubmit it to the processing center.
  • Notify the financial aid office of any outside scholarships or grants that you have accepted since your initial application.
  • Notify the school(s) in writing as to whether you are accepting or declining admission by May 1st, the universal notification deadline.
  • Respond immediately to all correspondence regarding school, scholarships, and financial aid.
  • Participate in summer orientation programs for incoming freshmen after high school graduation.
  • Meet all class registration deadlines. Be aware of due dates for tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@bierercollegeconsulting.com; www.bierercollegeconsulting.com

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