I still remember the satisfaction that I would get as an admissions officer when I opened up a student's application in Regular Decision and saw the "Mid-Year Report" or simply just an updated transcript with first semester grades from senior year.
It was like everything I needed to know about the student was all right in front of me. Senior year grades are illuminating, discriminating, and predictive of admissions decisions. Part of the challenge of the mid-year report is on the students' high schools: finalizing first semester grades and submitting them in time to make a difference. The other part is on the students: the inherent challenge of getting good grades even through senior year.
Here is the who, what, when, where, and why about the illusive mid-year report:
The mid-year report is supposed to be filled out by the student's college counselor of record. It is a simple form that asks for updated information like GPA, class rank (if available), and whether the student's schedule or classes changed since the application was submitted.
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College counselors can fill out the form or choose not to. But the most important piece of the mid-year report is attaching the student's updated transcript with the first semester grades from senior year. Most college counselors will send this information electronically to colleges. However, the Common Application, the most widely accepted application, indicates that this information can be mailed, faxed, or emailed if the college permits it. Honestly, though, the best and most effective way to submit this information is electronically. It's 2022, everyone!
As soon as possible! Most reports/grades will be submitted by the end of January. Some arrive in the early weeks of February. It really depends on when the grades are finalized and how quickly the college counselor submits them. But I cannot stress enough, the sooner the grades are submitted, the better.
Not all colleges will require the mid-year report and senior year grades. However, most selective colleges will want this information before a final admissions decision is made.
College admissions is typically based on a student's performance from 9th through 12th grade. What classes a student takes and the grades they receive, even in senior year, can have a profound effect on the admissions decision. In an era when acceptance rates hover in the single digits at some colleges, doing well in senior year is more important than ever. If a student's grades take a dip and there is a very good reason for that, the college counselor can provide an explanation. I encourage college counselors to do this when appropriate. Receiving an explanation from the college counselor about a student's decline in grades can be extremely helpful for an admissions committee.
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I remember when I switched roles to become a college counselor of record at a high school and feeling the pressure to get senior year grades finalized for my students. I knew my students' applications would be "complete" and ready to be evaluated by the colleges when that last piece of the application was submitted. I recommend that students check in with their college counselors in these first few days of the New Year to find out when grades are finalized and submitted to colleges. This will give everyone a clear plan to stick to!