It seems once a senior clears the first semester hurdle, they think the rest of the year is downhill and colleges don’t care about what they do. Little could be further from the truth.
Many parents have contacted me seeking approval for their child to drop a course midyear. They are not sure if it is okay, but their high schooler has tried to convince them that colleges won’t see their grades and it doesn’t matter.
Colleges will not see their final grades before the admissions decision is made, but most colleges will request an end-of-year transcript and a dropped course will be noted and may raise concerns.
Guidance counselors, with good reason, are vehemently against dropping courses. Some schools even require parents and students to sign a letter acknowledging the risk they are taking related to college admission.
Some students try to get creative and suggest substituting an online course instead of the one offered at their high school and this too is not looked upon favorably. According to Brown University, “The very fact that they want to take it online instead will raise eyebrows. If they are taking it anyway, why don’t they just stay in class? If there is a scheduling conflict with another advanced course and the school endorses the change for that reason, then we’ll accept that, but if they are simply substituting an online option for an in-class option, we will be less understanding.”
Colleges look at the transcript as a predictor of future performance based on the rigor of the courses taken. If colleges find out that students have dropped classes after they were admitted, it could be considered grounds for revoking the offer of admission. The bait-and-switch plan of signing up for a rigorous course and then dropping it after first semester is not worth the risk.
I checked out what College Confidential ( www.collegeconfidential .com ) had to say. CC is a great Web site with an online forum where students and parents ask questions and share information. Here’s what I found:
Question: I’m thinking about dropping a course so that I could have more time to concentrate on my more important AP courses. Do you think that doing so will have adverse effects on my acceptances? Could they revoke my admissions offer?
Answer: It may. What might happen is that you may not be told you got rescinded for dropping until late fall, too late to do anything. A friend dropped a class senior year and was told not to come to college the week before she was to start classes. It took that long for Admissions to review her final high school transcript and then they yanked her, a cautionary tale.