The Importance of Senior Year – Part I

For the next two blogs, my colleague Marina Fried will answer the question: “How important is senior year to the admissions committee?”

Marina Wencelblat Fried '98
Marina Wencelblat Fried '98

As a Cornell alum (’98) and having worked at Cornell for nearly ten years now, I just can’t seem to get enough The beauty and richness of the campus and its natural surroundings, coupled with the incredible students I meet year after year, continue to make my job extremely enjoyable and exciting.  I currently live downstate in the Metro, NY area and am responsible for the recruitment programs in NYC, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties. Go Big Red!

We often receive the question, how important is senior year to the admissions committee? For many students, the emphasis is placed on junior year as a time to take more challenging courses as well as the time most students sit for standardized tests. We fully understand this is a jam-packed, anxiety-provoking year!  While junior year (and for that matter, freshman and sophomore years too) is very important to us, senior year can play an equal or even larger role in the admissions process. As this is the time of year that many juniors are planning their senior year schedules, we thought it would be helpful to provide some context for the importance of senior year.

When we look at your transcript, we are evaluating the rigor of your curriculum along with the grades.  We always look at the high school transcript in conjunction with the high school profile (your guidance/college counselor sends this to us along with your transcript and his/her letter) so that we know what sorts of courses were offered at your high school, how you challenged yourself (within your own school context), and what you took advantage of. Let me note, we will never penalize you for not taking a course that was not offered at your school. If your school does offer honors, AP, or IB courses, we expect to see some of those on your high school transcript. However, we do not mean to imply that every class you have ever taken in high school must be an honors, AP, or IB course (if your school offers these). Instead, we want to see that you have challenged yourself to your own academic potential and have taken the most challenging courses in the areas that you wish to pursue in college, that you excel at,  and most importantly, those that you enjoy learning about! When we consider your senior year curriculum, we expect to see that you are continuing to challenge yourself academically (and succeeding in those classes). This shows us that you have been steadily increasing the difficulty of your courses so that when you step foot on our college campus, you will be fully prepared to succeed here as well!

It is also extremely important to keep in mind the undergraduate college(s) and/or school(s) here at Cornell that you are thinking of applying to. Admission requirements may differ slightly, so as you plan your senior year schedule, be sure you are fulfilling the academic requirements of the college(s) and/or school(s) here at Cornell that you are applying to. This includes not only the specific coursework in high school that you need to complete, but also the standardized tests that are required by the college(s) and/or school(s).

Your curriculum is an incredibly important part of your academic profile senior year, but that is only part of it. Read my next blog as we continue to discuss the importance of senior year and specifically, the importance of senior year grades.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Senior Year – Part I

  1. Could you give us an indication on whether Cornell will use its waitlist for the class of 2016? If yes, what is the approximate timeline and how do you reach out to the selected applicants?

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