When Do Colleges Rescind Acceptances?

@retro11 -The Tulane admission folks will not be happy with your downturn. Nonetheless, my cloudy crystal ball says that you will be asked to explain your drop in grades but, ultimately, your acceptance and your scholarship will not be rescinded. However, I suggest that you email your Tulane regional rep TODAY. (This is the staff member who oversees applicants from your high school. You probably already know who it is, but—if not—you’ll find your counselor here: https://admission.tulane.edu/meet-our-counselors).

You should insist that you’re definitely not slacking but have been crushed by a heavy course load. Be sure to include any measures you’ve taken to stay afloat, such as peer or professional tutoring, after-school help sessions with your teacher, extra hours of studying, etc. You should not, however, put a lot of emphasis on the impact that your extracurricular activities have had on your declining grades. Admission officials expect academics to take precedence over extracurriculars and aren’t going to cut you much slack because you’ve been busy planning the Key Club banquet or the senior prom.

Don’t wait until you hear from Tulane before writing. If you are proactive now, you will be sending a message that suggests, “I am paying attention and I’m not slacking, but I’m still having a tough time.”

Note also that Tulane will be focusing only on your FINAL grades and not on third- or fourth-quarter grades. So if these classes are two-semester classes and you did better in the first term, then the final grade that Tulane sees won’t be quite as heinous as the ones you’ve cited here. (When you mention “end of the year” grades, I can’t tell if you’re talking about the last quarter or your grade overall.)

Good luck on the home stretch, if you still have a few weeks to go. Keep your nose to the grindstone. If any of your teachers will let you do some extra-credit work to bring those C’s up to B’s, then grab it.

You’ll love Tulane. Make sure to get to Dat Dog on Freret Street for amazing hot dogs (even vegan ones if you must), to Atchafalaya on Louisiana Ave. for brunch, to Superior Seafood on St. Charles for Happy Hour oysters, and to Audubon Park across the street from campus to run it all off!

Thanks for your reply Sally but I had a problem and one of my grades dropped to a D+… I will try my best to get it up but I’m not entirely sure if I can. Do you think that having my parents go through divorce trials be a good excuse…? I’m not sure if they will get divorced yet but they are still fighting about it.

@Yayzers- Obviously the admission folks will not be happy with your D+, if you can’t get it up. But you will be on firmer ground if you write to them NOW and explain the situation. As I already suggested to you last week, don’t be an ostrich and wait for them to contact you in June or July. Explain what’s going on with your parents and how it’s been stressful and distracting. (You can even mention that you’re sure your grades will be better once you get to college since you’ll be removed from the day-to-day anger and fighting.) It would also be very worthwhile to explain this situation to your guidance counselor and to ask him or her to write to B.U. on your behalf to corroborate the fact that your current grades aren’t really representative of your usual ability and effort but that you’re feeling a lot of strain on the home front.

Meanwhile, best wishes to you as you face these stressful times. They will get better, I assure you, once your life is your own and you don’t have the angst of others surrounding you.

@Sally_Rubenstone I plan on attending UPENN in the fall. My grades seem fine, but it is my course load. My school is an early college high school. My first semester I took, Calculus, General Chemistry, and Dance at a college level along with a high school English and Government class. When I applied, I was taking Calc 2 at a college along with comp sci, but I dropped the math course. Now I am only taking high school English and Government along with a college computer science class where I elected to do P/F. Will colleges take alarm to the difference in course load?

@Sally_Rubenstone Hi, first of all thank you so much for helping all of us on this thread! Anyway, currently I am worried about my grade in AP physics 1 (I have a b right not but after my final I may earn a c). I currently am committed to UW, and my Freshman to first semester senior year GPA is a 3.95. I may also earn a B in AP micro economics. In the first semester of my senior year, I earned A’s in most of my classes (AP English lit, music, AP Gov, AP Econ, AP physics 1) and a B in AP statistics (brought it up to an a this semester). Will I be rescinded because of the C and B? I have been struggling in both of these classes all year if that makes a difference. Thank you so much for your help!

This discussion topic has been very useful. My student was accepted in a highly selective liberal arts college, but will most likely end the year with 3 As and 3 Bs or 4 As and 2Bs rather than the almost straight As before the last semester of senior year. Will this cause issues? The student is working very hard but a couple of the classes were harder than expected and not to their liking.

@laurenofny - Yes, it’s likely that the admission folks at Penn will review your final transcript and not be pleased that you dropped the math class and you’re taking the Comp Sci class without a grade. Ultimately, however, my best guess is that you may receive a warning letter about this asking for an explanation, but no further action will be taken.

It would be a good idea to write to Penn now and provide an explanation of the change, IF you have a good reason for dropping the Calc class. For instance, one student I know in your shoes dropped a calc class because the regular teacher left and the long-term sub didn’t seem to understand the subject matter. Your situation may not be as clear-cut as this one, but if you can provide ANY reasonable explanation of the change, then telling Penn about it BEFORE they contact you would be worthwhile. (“I didn’t like the class” or “I didn’t like the teacher” do not count as reasonable explanations. If, however, you felt that the teacher was not just unlikable but also incompetent–like in the example I cited–it would be helpful to also provide corroboration of this from a school counselor. That’s what the student in my example did. He was far from the only kid in that class who dropped it, and his counselor wrote to his college to say so.)

@apanickedsenior -You should be fine. If your panic is keeping you up at night, it might make you feel better to write to the admission folks to tell them that you’ve been struggling in these two classes but never slacking, pointing to your heavy course load and other good grades. But you really need not worry about this.

@Sally_Rubenstone RIght now, in my classes I expect to have at least one C in My AP Computer Science course. This isn’t going to be used in my major and I’m expected to have an A as my final grade in that class as well. The only other grade I think may slip is AP Macro, which is dropping from a low A to a mid B, which may drop that final grade to a B. I’m a bit worried that Lehigh will rescind my acceptance. Do you think I will get a rescind or a warning? Thank you for all the help you’ve done on this thread throughout the years!

@ReallyProudParent - I don’t see any problem based on what you’ve said here. IF, however, your student ends up with 3 B’s and all of these B’s are in the hard-core academic subjects while the A’s are in band, yearbook, etc., then your student MIGHT get a letter from the college noting the downturn and asking for an explanation. But your student can reply that these were unexpectedly rigorous classes, and then nothing more will come of it. Frankly, I don’t expect any action from the college at all. Typically, at the more selective colleges, there usually must be a couple C’s in the mix (or one D) before the college folks get fussy.

@Lionsault -I’m a little confused here. Are you saying that you will get a C in AP Comp Sci as a quarter or a semester grade but you still expect an A for your FINAL grade? If that’s the case, it’s only the final grade that colleges care about. And even if you were to get one C in AP Comp Sci that IS your final grade, I don’t see Lehigh acting on it at all. But, as I just explained to @ReallyProudParent, if you were to get MORE than one C as a final grade, then Lehigh most likely WILL ask for an explanation. The B in econ will not be a problem.

@Sally_Rubenstone The C would just be a quarter grade, but the A would be for the final grade after the school year ends because of the high marks in the past quarters. I don’t think I’ll get below a B for any of my final grades. Thank you for all the help!

@Lionsault–You’ll be totally fine. Congrats on your Lehigh acceptance and best wishes on a great experience there.

@Sally_Rubenstone Thank you much for your feedback. I still have some concern over this since I am not sure what the actual review process is and why the school would want the full grades not just the final grades for the year sent in. My child never received a B until the second half of this year and it was not senioritis. Just some hard classes, dumb luck and solidification that science and math is not their future endeavor. It does not reflect my child who is an independent self-motivated person that excels at everything and was accepted into their dream school and now feels awful that the grades have slipped and is concerned after reading other stories online. No more exams to help bring them up since the classes with AP tests do not have any final exams. What is the typical process that the most highly selective schools use over the summer? Perhaps you can point me to some information. As a small school we do not want to call the school to ask questions and focus attention on this.

@ReallyProudParent - I really think that this is much ado about nothing. Typically, when admission officials review their admitted students’ final transcripts, one admission officer will go through each school report looking for low grades as well as for disciplinary problems or similar concerns (which rarely crop up). The counselor who does this may be the regional rep who is only checking transcripts from students on his or her turf, or it may be another staff member (or members) who are simply assigned to hunt for downturns. But, in order for a file to get flagged, these downturns must be significant. While “significant” will vary from college to college (and sometimes even from applicant to applicant), at the elite-college level, we’re usually talking one D (or F) or a couple of C’s (if they weren’t there in the past). And even when such flags crop up, this doesn’t mean that an acceptance will be rescinded. It only means that the student will probably receive a letter that says, “What happened?”

In your child’s case, I don’t see any downturn here that comes close to “significant,” particularly because you say that there wasn’t even a “B” until the second semester. So, if the B (or more than one) was earned in a full-year class, then the final grade should be higher than a B … probably a B+ or A-. But even if it’s simply a B, I still don’t view the decline as one that a college would address.

You certainly should NOT call your child’s college (nor should your child call) to inquire about this issue. Instead, you should try to put this on the back burner and stop worrying. If, however, it’s keeping your child awake at night (and I don’t mean YOU!!), then s/he can write to the admission office and briefly say what you’ve said here (i.e.,hard classes in subjects that won’t be part of future plans and maybe some bad luck, too).

Although I can never respond to queries here with 100 percent certainty when I don’t know the school or student involved, I really feel that you and your child have nothing to worry about, and the aforementioned letter to the admission folks is definitely optional … which is not something that I always say on this thread.

Hey Sally,


I noticed that I listed the same stupid mistake as I did before for my sophomore year class. Two of my electives were listed as full year courses rather than semester ones.

I filled out yet another form but I really don’t want them to think I’m lying to them.

Do you think they’ll rescind me?

The two classes in sophomore year were art and business studies.I justified the change with a confusion due to schedule changes in my school (a school wide policy that changed year long grading to semester grading).

@SpiritedDisplay1 -You’ll be FINE. The admission folks will not think you’re lying. Your acceptance will not be rescinded. Relax … if you can!!

Is it not weird that I’ve had the same issue twice on separate accounts???

@SpiritedDisplay1 -Not ideal perhaps but not a big deal either. Please let this go. You won’t survive college if you’re this obsessive!

Hello Sally, I’m a little scared. Will I get rescinded from University of Illinois at Chicago? First semester senior year I had a B in AP computer science A but now I have a D. The rest of my grades have remained the same since first semester. Could I get rescinded? :frowning: