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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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 I know someone that had her acceptance rescinded because she assumed that once she got in, she didn't have to do anything else.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.