My last newsletter addressed the importance of your grades in ninth, tenth and eleventh grades. Those grades are the academic foundation on which a student applies to U.S. colleges.

Does this mean your grades in your final year don’t count?

Twelfth grade counts!

If your school assigns official grades at the end of the first quarter of the academic year, your school may submit them promptly. Even if your first-semester grades appear only in January, your school can submit them. And if you are applying through the Common Application, your school counselor must submit a Mid-Year Grade Report.

Those grades can be considered by a college that has not yet reviewed your dossier. They can also be used in a final review at the end of the admissions committee’s deliberations, at which point a college can double-check its decisions.

Will your academic performance in that one semester outweigh your academic performance of the previous three years?For that to be true in a positive sense—that is, for it to result in a college changing a decision from negative to positive— would take rather special circumstances.

Conversely, a downturn in senior-year grades may result in a college changing a decision from positive to negative. Even after offers of admission have been made, a college can rescind an offer, based on a damaging grade report. That is, if you contract a bad case of senioritis and totally blow off school in senior year, a U.S. college can decide to take back its offer of admission. I have seen this happen.

Those of you who are applying to U.K. universities are probably aware that offers of admission are based in large part on the grades you are predicted to get at the end of your final year; in the classic case, the results of your two-year degree program. U.K. offers are “conditional”; the condition being that you must actually get the predicted results, or very close to them.

It takes a lot to make a U.S. college rescind an offer. Nevertheless, it happens.

Athena Advises

Let’s look at the big picture. The best plan is to take your studies seriously, no matter what age you are. In ninth grade, you learn the basic mathematical skills that are required to keep moving ahead in mathematics. If you’re learning a foreign language, the basic grammar and vocabulary are taught in the early stages.

How are you going to excel in your final two years, if you have no foundation to build on? And wouldn’t it be a whole lot less stressful to go through every school day knowing what’s going on class?

You’ll have plenty to do in twelfth grade without trying to make up for so-so performance in earlier grades. And it’s your last chance to have fun with high school activities outside of class! At this level, it’s your turn to lead!

A final consideration: wouldn’t it be great to leave secondary school actually knowing things and truly prepared for college?

Wishing you the best of every year,


Dr. Marlena Corcoran
Founder and CEO