Page 7 - KnightTime News Winter 2018
P. 7

KNIGHTtime News
with Senior Year Grades, Anyway?
 By Natalie Ford
This year more than ever, we’ve heard a lot of chatter and angst surrounding the importance and meaning of senior year grades. Do senior year grades even matter? The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is more complicated.
Colleges and universities are interested in seeing what courses
a student is signed up for in senior year. In fact, students can usually
list their courses right on their application, and Menlo also includes senior year classes directly on the official transcript. The intention is that admissions offices will consider the rigor and content of 12th grade classes as a means of evaluating the consistency displayed across four years of high school coursework. As you can probably guess, senior year is not the time to ease off the rigor gas pedal. It’s a safe assumption that senior year is not necessarily any more or less important than other years of high school, even though college applications are due right in the middle of 12th grade.
So what do schools require when it comes to grades from senior year? All schools will definitely want to see official mid-year grades. Rest
assured, this is a step that the college counseling office does on behalf of our students. Colleges on a student’s list of regular decision applications will receive an official semester update, which typically includes a mid-year grade report and official transcript. If a student
is admitted early decision or early action, Menlo’s College Counseling team will still be expected to submit a mid-year grade report with official semester grades as a means for colleges to keep tabs on students’ academic performances.
A growing trend we’ve seen surrounds the relevance, or irrelevance, of first quarter grades during the college application process. The truth is, this is a bit
of a murky area. In general, the emphasis on senior year from an admission evaluation standpoint is centered on the mid-year grades and end-of-year grades, since
they tend to be an accumulation
of various tests, quizzes, projects, papers, etc. First quarters grades, however, have many more variables that put the content of the grades in greater question. For example,
a strong first quarter showing or a weak first quarter showing could be
based on results from a single test or quiz, and there is still a lot of time to turn the grade around in either direction. As such, colleges are wary of placing significant weight on such early progress. Colleges tend to assume a competitive applicant is continuing to earn grades during senior year that are consistent
with their previous years’ results and simply don’t need or want the extra paperwork inundating their inboxes, fax machines, applicant portal, or mail room, knowing the semester grade report is coming right around the corner.
Of course, we will continue to
do everything to support Menlo students, and therefore, in the few examples of colleges requiring
first quarter grades for their early applicants, we will always send those updates. But the takeaway for students is knowing the emphasis is on the long game, with mid-
year grades and final end-of-year grades having a greater impact
on the admissions process. First quarter grades at Menlo are a helpful barometer within our own community, but less so in the college admissions arena.

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