Your child has been watching the mailbox for days. He just got what he's been waiting for: a letter of acceptance to his top college. In just a few months he'll be on campus and on a career path. What could possibly go wrong?
Not all the hard work is over. The offer of admissions is not a guarantee. It can be revoked. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 21% of the nation's colleges revoked at least one offer in 2009. On average, those schools pulled away ten offers.
Yet your student's shot at university isn't at great risk. He'll have to work very hard to fail at this point, but here's how it can happen.
It's natural for students to relax the pressure on the accelerator after three and a half years in hot pursuit of a college. They deserve it, but slacking too much can be dangerous. A severe senior slump can lead to their offer being revoked.
He might not have read past the part that said “accepted”, but the admissions letter your child received included a provision requiring him to maintain his academic performance. A little droop in GPA is not a big deal, but a D or F is. Some schools may frown heavily at a C.
The NACAC reported that final grades were the reason for revoking an offer 65% of the time. It's best to be proactive and honest in such situations. If you anticipate a drop in grades, contact the admissions counselor. Be prepared to offer an explanation. In the case of illness, a death in the family or other unfortunate situations, a college will be understanding. If the reason is simply lack of discipline, the school will see it as a flaw in character.
Your child's next school doesn't want a trouble maker. Plenty of quality students would be happy to have your student's spot in class.
As you know, a teenager can get in trouble in numerous ways. Each one of them could endanger his college career. Drunk driving, drugs, violence, cheating and theft are all reasons colleges have revoked offers of acceptance. These troubles have been around since your parents were kids, but there's a new way to get caught you shouldn't ignore.
Inappropriate web posting can land people of all ages in hot water. It isn't always what your child posts, but what is posted about him. Cameras are everywhere. Any weekend romp can easily make its way around the world in an hour.
Plagiarism has never been easier to perform or to catch. Make sure your student avoids the temptation to snip parts of an essay from the web. Plagiarism-detecting software is ubiquitous these days. Also, beware of who sees your child's essays. They may be copied and plagiarized without his knowledge, leading colleges to suspect him of sharing it.
Do not exaggerate, pad or stretch the truth when applying for a college. You or your child may not be caught initially, but when you are the consequences will be drastic. False information on an application reflects not only your integrity, but that of the entire institution. Be sure GPA, activities, club memberships and other details are accurate.
If your child changes or drops classes in the final semester, be sure to inform his next school. They may be assuming he will continue an AP track, for example, and the offer may be contingent upon that. In general, open communication and honesty is the best policy.
And be sure to accept their offer of acceptance. Students have actually missed out on their shot at college by failing to sign a letter of commitment and sending in their deposit. Don't find out too late that your student's spot was given to another because she demonstrated interest when yours did not.
Only Slump a Little
Don't be too tough on your child. He made it, he just needs to finish the race. Very few college offers are ever revoked. It only happens in extreme situations, but don't think it can't happen to you.
Let your student relax a little, but don't let the study muscles atrophy completely. He'll be needing them in the fall.