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U.Va. Warns That "Senior Slump" Is No Excuse For Bad Grades

April 17, 2000 -- Although the college-admissions letters said "yes," high school seniors should not let their grades slip, admission officials at the University of Virginia advise.

Deans in U.Va. 's Office of Admission, like their counterparts at other top-ranked schools, have become increasingly concerned about students ' academic performance taking a nosedive after they have gained admission. In an effort to ward off such poor performance, the office sends several types of letters to newly admitted students whose mid-year reports include poor grades.

One letter, written by Dean of Admission John A. Blackburn, says in part, "When we offered you admission, we did it with the understanding that you would complete your senior year with distinguished grades. I am writing … to strongly suggest that you change your pattern as you approach your studies this semester."

"We are concerned that ‘senior slump ' or ‘senioritis ' can undermine a student 's academic performance. We take students ' final grades seriously," Blackburn said.

If newly admitted students end the senior year with poor grades, they receive from the Admission Office a letter that asks them to explain such lackluster performance. Written by Blackburn, the letter states "I am unable to finalize your admission to the University until I receive a satisfactory explanation."

If students ' responses are deemed unsatisfactory or if students fail to respond, they could be denied admission, Blackburn said. Several such students were denied admission during the last two years, he noted.

"Students say they don 't realize how important it is to keep their grades up once they 've been offered admission. To help them understand, we send out two letters — one that is essentially a warning and one that asks for an explanation if there is a bad grade," Blackburn said.

Students who complete the senior year with a decline in academic performance, but to whom the University still extends an admission offer, often receive another letter from Blackburn. It reads in part, "It is important that you regain your academic focus so that you can establish a record of excellence in your coursework here."

"The ‘senior slump ' often carries over into the college years," Blackburn said. "Our goal is to find students who have been serious about their school work throughout their high school years and who, hopefully, will continue that pattern at U.Va."

For more information, contact John Blackburn at (804) 982-3375 or via

Contact: Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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