How Can Students Avoid Losing Their College Admissions Offers?

US News and World Report

August 31, 2011

One of the last thoughts running through an accepted student’s mind is the potential to have his or her college offer revoked for things after they’ve sent in the applications. While it is rare, it is very possible and our experts are here to explain what kinds of behaviors can result in the dreaded “You’re no longer accepted here” letter. Ashley S. from Norman, Okla., asks:

Q: I just heard that colleges will sometimes revoke an offer of admission. What kinds of behaviors can cause this and how can students protect themselves?

A: Once you get in, better behave! Colleges can revoke admission.
Katherine Cohen, founder and CEO, IvyWise

Just because you receive that college acceptance letter doesn’t mean you’ll be matriculating the coming fall. First, a school must receive your commitment along with a deposit by the all-important May 1 deadline; if it does not, then they it release your spot to someone on the wait list.

Don’t catch senioritis! Students often think that once they get in, all the hard work is over. Not quite. An offer of admission is contingent on passing all courses listed on your senior year schedule. Colleges require a copy of your final year transcript to ensure that you have graduated and successfully passed all courses–dropping or failing even one course can hurt. Generally speaking, you also want avoid any misconduct, including cheating and getting arrested. Also, be careful of what you post on Facebook and MySpace!

A: Think about your actions; once you’re in, it’s yours to lose.
Stacey Kostell, director of admissions, University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign

One of the most common ways to get the dreaded letter is not performing academically. This includes not performing at the same level as semesters in grades 9 through 11, or dropping academic coursework in your senior year without informing the college. Stay on track and get permission/input before changing your schedule after the application is submitted.

Other risky behaviors include misconduct senior year and academic dishonesty or criminal behavior. Report these to the college immediately with a full explanation. Take responsibility for your actions!

A: Don’t fall prey to senioritis.
Michele Hernandez, president and founder, and

There are two reasons colleges can revoke an offer of admission: academic and behavioral. Every college as a different threshold. At Dartmouth College where I worked, we asked students to respond to a GPA senior year of 2.0 or lower, or any grades of D or F. If their explanation was not convincing, they were unaccepted. In general, colleges expect you to maintain your grades–so sure, you can get a B or two, but not B/C grades. Some schools like Stanford University have been known to ask students to explain even one grade of C.

The other major area is behavioral and the worst infraction would be academic dishonesty–grounds for instant revocation. The other area would be any felony charges, criminal charges, or anything that leads to getting suspended or expelled from school. The moral of the story is to maintain the same standard senior year as you did before you applied to college.

A: Your senior year still counts!
Mabel Freeman, assistant vice president of undergraduate admissions, Ohio State University

Revoking an offer of admission is not a policy that we take lightly. When college admissions materials point out that the applicant’s academic work, character, and behavior are taken into consideration through the completion of the senior year, we mean that. Eighth semester transcripts are part of our final review process. A drastic change in grades or dropping key courses in the senior year or incidents of negative behavior can result in a reversal of an earlier decision. Stay focused on your college goals right up through your entire senior year and just forget those goofy graduation pranks.


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