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How much do Senior Year grades matter?



So I'm currently a senior and I'm wondering how much senior year grades will matter. I'm likely going to get a B in AP Chem (rn I'm at an 85%, but my teacher grades EVERYTHING super duper hard). Would getting a B in a hard science class that relates to my major hurt my application for regular decision colleges like Brown, MIT, Princeton, Northwestern, and USC?


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Accepted answer

They do matter.

In the extreme case, let's say you apply to UCLA or Stanford and get accepted but have a bad case of senioritis and blow off your AP exams and your grades drop from all As to Bs and Cs. I know someone that had her acceptance rescinded because she assumed that once she got in, she didn't have to do anything else. The parents were devastated and she ended up going to community college.

In the typical case, they matter a lot this 2020-2021 application cycle because.

a.) Many US applicants do not have A-F grades on their Spring 2020 Junior transcript. Colleges want to see if the applicant picked up where they left off or had a dip because of the changing online learning experience affecting most of us in America. It's easier for them to make a decision if there are grades to connect the dots with rather and not counting on them.

b.) Grades can are used as one of many tie-breakers if you are not the clear choice at a college and your file is being weighed against someone else.

I'm not a college consultant but so take this with a grain of salt. I would examine this further with someone who knows or has access to someone that works in an admissions office. What they might tell you is to pick an easier major which is not STEM-related, then once you are in the school of your choice, load up on the requisite STEM requirements, (for instance taking Chemistry over and getting an A), and transfer into your major. This is not an unusual admissions play that college consultants use. A competitor of CV has some videos on college admissions and they used this play even though their client had a 4.0 UWGPA and 1550 SATs. They had him apply as a linguistics major to get into Stanford because Human Biology is too saturated with SIS Asian Males with perfect stats.

Good luck with your college admissions journey.

I'm applying for EE. In all likelihood I'm going to a UC, but I'm wondering whether a B in AP Chem (and As in my other 3 AP Classes) would really be that bad...
First of all, one or two bs is nkt going to hurt you and determine an acceptance or rejection. You'll clear the academic threshold, which is what matters most. Additionally, I highly highly recommend that you do NOT apply for a different major and then switch. Though some people do use it and have succes with it, it is not recommended. This is mainly because your activities, classes, and essays should reflect your interests and your intended major.
so if you're activites and classes are all stem related and you apply for linguistics, colleges will have no clue why you want to study linguistics as you have demonstrated no interest in it. This will also make your essays much harder to write.
Yeah, i was thinking that. For certain essays, I've already written about a common theme related to engineering, and what I want to do with it.
As long as you have the stats and GPA for EE at UC schools like Berkeley or UCLA, you should be fine then. Chemistry is not that close to electrical engineering.
I just wanted to add that you probably don't need to worry about it too much, especially considering that the pandemic is still ongoing and many schools are still online (not sure if that's the case for you). If you've done well in your classes otherwise, you'll be fine :) Chemistry isn't that close to EE, as @NurseLetty said.