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Could Your College Acceptance Really Be Rescinded?


You’ve worked super hard and your stress levels has gone off the charts. Then finally, it arrives. Your admission letter is finally here. And you have been accepted! Congrats, pre-collegiette! You may think your work is done, your future is secured and it’s time to finally kick back and relax (hello, Netflix!), or go to way more parties, but unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case.

Your acceptance isn’t rock solid, it’s conditional—meaning if your grades slip significantly, your offer could be taken back and all your hard work could go to waste. We definitely don’t want that to happen, and we’re sure you feel the same, so we talked to Bari Norman Ph.D., Certified Educational Planner, co-founder and president of Expert Admissions,and current collegiettes to get the lowdown on ensuring that your spot at your future college stays safe and sound.

What does it mean to have your letter rescinded?

If you read through your entire admission letter, you’ll notice that it says your offer is conditional. But, do you know what this actually means?

“All admission letters say the offer is on the condition that you maintain the level of academic performance that you’ve had up until now–they say it in some way, shape or form,” Norman says. So, there are different ways that your admission could be taken away, and it’s not just your grades that could affect your acceptance.

Why exactly would your acceptance to a school be rescinded? Read below to find out. 

1. Bad grades

This is probably the most obvious reason you could expect your letter to be rescinded for. However, it's still worth mentioning, especially considering how easy it is to lose motivation at the end of senior year.

“College offers can be rescinded most commonly because there’s been a significant dip in your grades,” Norman says. “If you’re a student who’s basically gotten all As and a couple Bs here and there, and you get one or two Cs and you’re applying to a highly selective college, potentially, you could hear from [that] school about an offer being rescinded.”

Don't stop hustling, pre-collegiettes. Summer will be here shortly.

2. Course switches

Another surprising way you could get your offer rescinded is if you switch courses. Be wary that switching out some of your hardest classes for an easier elective could have potential drawbacks in the long run.

“Sometimes students will drop classes, and if you’re considering doing that, you should always communicate with any colleges you’re either actively applying to or have been admitted to, and ask them if it’s okay to make that switch to your curriculum,” Norman says. “If you do it without asking, they may say that it’s not okay. They may feel that it weakens your curriculum enough that they wouldn’t have admitted you had that been your curriculum at the start.” Definitely think twice before switching your courses.

3. Disciplinary issues

Disciplinary issues can make you lose your acceptance to a college, as well. We all know how easy it is for your intentions to be misconstrued, so try to avoid even the slightest risk of trouble––hey, that "funny" senior prank could go very, very wrong. 

“If you get into some trouble at school and there’s a suspension or expulsion, there’s a possibility for the rescinding of the offer,” Norman says. Try to stay out of trouble, pre-collegiettes!

So, how likely is it to happen?

Is it a likely to get your offer revoked? Thankfully, n ––but that doesn't mean it can't happen.

"The vast majority of people do not have this issue,” Norman says. “It absolutely does, [though]. It’s not just an urban myth.”

We don't want to worry you, but we do want to warn you to be careful. “The idea is you don’t want to finish out any weaker than you’ve been thus far,” Norman says. You don’t have to step up your game completely and go even harder than before, but you do need to maintain your grades.

One collegiette shares what happened when her grades dropped after her acceptance. Mackenzie*, a senior at the University of British Columbia, shares her experience in her last term of high school, “For both visual arts and drama, I received a C- and C+ respectively and these were mandatory courses for my high school,” she says. “They were the worst grades that I ever got.”

Thankfully, this story does have a happy ending. Despite dropping to these low grades, Mackenzie’s offer was not revoked. “Getting these respective grades did not deter me from being accepted into UBC's Sauder School Of Business, since these courses were far from related to any course work that I would be exposed to in Sauder,” Mackenzie says. “Visual arts and drama were just not relevant enough compared to my other high school courses to be taken into account.” But keep in mind that this is one person's experience and definitely doesn’t mean you can get a D or F and still expect to keep your offer.

Related: 5 Things to Keep in Perspective During College Admissions Season

How to prevent it from happening

You killed it thus far and got into college, so why should keeping your acceptance be any different? You were able to keep your grades strong up to this point, so don’t worry that there will suddenly be a dramatic change—this ain’t The Bachelor. As long as you maintain your habits and continue to work hard, your offer will remain on the table.

Ashley*, a senior, maintained her strong grades after her acceptance to her top school. Her advice? “You got in doing what you're doing, so just don't change anything,” she says. “No need to work harder, but don't work any less hard.”

As hard as it can be, resist senioritis. “You need to stand your game,” Norman says. “It is hard because it’s the last leg of the race and you’re tired and exhausted, and once you have an offer at hand, you feel like ‘okay I’m done’—but you’re not done.”

She adds, “Done is graduation, and then you can celebrate. But, you’re not done just because you have the offer at hand.” You should absolutely celebrate your acceptance, but save the big celebration and total relaxation for after you get your high school diploma.

Jackie*, a freshman, also kept her grades and spot solid after her acceptance. “Make promises to yourself and others that you can commit to, [and] take away your temptation/procrastination,” she says. “Study with productive people, get to a productive space, sleep eight hours a day, exercise and eat healthy.”

What to do if you receive a warning letter

You opted for a Netflix binge or two (or more) instead of studying and your grades have taken a hit. Then, out of the blue, you receive a dreaded warning letter. What should you do next?

Some colleges will provide you an alternative. “The warning letters tend to come more in [the form where] they say, ‘listen, this is the option, either you come to our campus this summer, take two or three classes, maintain a high GPA and you start out on academic probation, or you don’t come at all’,” Norman says.

But not everyone can be that lucky. “The warning letters are usually not much of a warning, which is why you have to make sure you don’t get yourself in the position,” Norman adds. “There’ll be times where they’ll rescind the offer period, where there is no warning or alternative given to you.” That is obviously not a scenario you want to get yourself into, so keep working hard.

Keep your eye on the end goal, pre-collegiette, and your spot at your future college or university will be safe and sound. Summer will be here in no time and then you’ll finally be in grade-free territory—well, just for a couple months at least, but hey, we’ll take what we can get! Soon you can trade your class notes for a bikini, but for now, keep on pushing for a little bit longer.

*Name has been changed.

Follow Nicole Hui on Instagram.

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