Colleges revoke admissions to students with severe senioritis

Despite warnings, students may face the consequences

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story ran in our February 9, 2007 print edition.

It was the beginning of his senior year at Utica, and Cameron Bumstead thought he would be going to Michigan State University. Bumstead was accepted in October 2005, and thought he wouldn’t have to worry about his grades anymore. He began to slack off in his classes, and let his grade point drop from a 3.4 to a 1.7 his senior year.

Bumstead’s dad had always told him he could have his admission taken away if his grades slipped, but he never thought it could happen to him until one day he came home to his dad handing him an envelope from the college.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Bumstead said, “but I was kind of worried by the way my dad presented it. He just told me I needed to read it, and then stood watching me.”

The letter said that the grades Bumstead earned senior year were not up to MSU’s standards. Although Bumstead had already attended orientation and had his dorm room assigned, he had his admission rescinded. Bumstead was shocked. Because he had only applied to MSU, he was left wondering if he would be going to any college at all.

An increasing amount of high school students are slacking off senior year after being admitted into the college of their choice. Colleges remind students that admission in the fall is contingent upon successful completion of senior year.

Saginaw Valley State University Assistant Director of Admissions Craig Almar said a high school senior is not fully admitted until second semester transcripts are received. If a student’s grade point dips below the requirement, admission could be withdrawn.

“Seniors have to keep their end goal in mind,” Almar said. “Just because students have gotten through three and a half years of high school does not mean they’re done. Three and a half just doesn’t equal four.”

When the admission cycle is finished at Saginaw this year, Almar said about 4000 students will have been admitted. Usually, Almar is forced to rescind admission from four or five students a year.

“Four students out of 4000 seems like it’s not really a lot at all,” Almar said, “but to those four students, it’s devastating.”

For senior Kary Milgie, senioritis hit her the moment she received her acceptance letter to Central Michigan University.

“I read the letter,” Milgie said, “and the first thing I said was, ‘Okay, I’m done. I’m ready to be a slacker.'”

Milgie was accepted in early September, and has already sent in a tuition deposit and applied for housing. Though she really only cares about her math and English classes now, Milgie said she knows she’ll receive credit in her other classes without much effort.

Most colleges receive a final transcript with senior year grades, along with proof of graduation in June. If a student shows a significant decline in grades senior year, withdrawal of acceptance is possible.

At Oakland University, student must uphold a 4-year cumulative 2.5 GPA in order to be fully admitted. Kristin McGouan, admissions adviser at Oakland, said students need to keep their concentration throughout senior year.

“Students need to maintain their focus and realize that even though they’re already accepted,” McGouan said, “senior year grades will count as much as any other grades we’ve seen.”

Jim Cotter, Acting Director of Admissions at Michigan State University, said severe senioritis is more common than anyone would hope.

According to Cotter, MSU rescinded the applications of 46 students last year. It was a greater number than usual, and one of the largest totals in his 23 years at MSU.

A student who fails a class of any kind is in significant risk for having their admission adjusted, Cotter said. The senior year of high school should be used to prepare for that upcoming freshman year of college, he said.

“More often than not, the adjustment from a senior to a freshman is very hard if one does not take their senior year classes seriously,” Cotter said, “because senior year is preparation for that freshman year of college.”

Senior Tara Hackel has been accepted to three colleges so far. She’s one of the top ten students in her class, and is currently taking four AP classes. Though she has seen the start of a senioritis bug that she describes as a “lack of effort” in her classes, she still remains focused on maintaining her second semester grade point.

“I think colleges rescinding admission is a good way to keep seniors on track,” Hackel said. “Second semester is still a part of school, and it should still count to seniors.”

Counselor Lawrence Perry talked about the myth that students have about senior year not meaning anything to colleges.

“The idea of taking a break and letting skills soften in classes is not a good idea,” Perry said. “It’s the student’s responsibility to stay focused and keep their goals in mind.”

Seniors getting tired at the end of the year is understandable and common, Perry said, but for those students that let their grades drop enough to get uninvited by colleges, it’s devastating.

The fact remains that colleges can and will rescind admission due to a significant drop in academic performance during the senior year of high school. Last fall, one student was even denied admission from MSU the day before class started, Cotter said.

Bumstead, who graduated from Utica last year, is currently at Central Michigan University, where he was able to apply last minute. Bumstead is happy at Central now, but knows he made a mistake in letting his grades drop senior year.

“Everyone always tells me that they couldn’t believe what happened to me,” Bumstead said. “Don’t think it can’t happen to you, because obviously, it can.”