Feb 9, 2015

Midyear reports can be a critical factor in admissions

Georgetown wants MYR's by February 10.

It’s not surprising that with huge numbers of equally qualified applicants seeking scarce spots at   
selective colleges, midyear reports—including first semester or trimester grades—are becoming increasingly critical to the college admissions process.

And many college-bound seniors seem blissfully unaware of the importance of getting these reports submitted on time.

Last week, Rice University sent the following message to applicants:

“As of today, we have not received your mid-year high school transcript. To complete your application process, we must receive your mid-year transcript by February 13, 2015.”

The tone of this message came as somewhat of a surprise to students who checked out of the application process immediately after pushing the submit button.  It was especially chilling for seniors who experienced a slip in grades since the start of the year.

And for school counselors struggling with mounds of paperwork related to colleges and the admissions process, it was one more stressful deadline to worry about.

Not every college requires a midyear (MYR).  But for those that do, this document can sometimes tip the scales in admissions. It’s no longer a “pro forma” report simply to be filed after admissions decisions are made.  In fact, it carries significant weight.

For example, a student whose grades at the end of junior year fell just shy of what a college expects can show improvement or document an extension of an upward incline begun earlier in the high school career. An added boost in GPA might also help with scholarship dollars for schools using a grade factor for allocating merit money.

MYR’s also provide counselors with the opportunity to bring colleges up-to-date on additional achievements, scores, or distinctions since the original application was filed. For this reason, students should let counselors know if there’s anything worth telling the schools receiving these reports and ask that the information be included along with grades on the document forwarded to colleges.

Note that MYR’s represent important “marketing” opportunities for counselors to support individual candidacies. Incomplete or late documents add little or nothing.

On the downside, students who have dropped classes or succumbed to a mean case of senioritis risk being revealed on the midyear report. It’s no secret that colleges take a dim view of students who slip during their senior year, and major changes in academic performance or behavior can have unfortunate results.

Neither the Common App nor the Universal College Application (UCA) sends reminders about midyear reports. It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of this requirement and to ensure the counselor is aware of it.

For Common App colleges, you can check to see if a midyear report (labeled MR) is required by searching the name of the institution in the online requirements grid. Specifically review the “Recommendations” section for an indication of whether the report is required.

The UCA specifies which schools require a midyear report in several places. You can click on any of the Member Colleges and a complete list of requirements including forms will appear or you can go to your personal “Checklist” and access the information by clicking on “School Forms.”  The UCA even provides you with the ability to remind your counselor to send a midyear report by clicking a request button.

For colleges using neither the Common App nor the UCA, you will have to research the requirement on individual websites. Georgetown, for example, requires its own midyear report to be submitted no later than February 10, 2015.

And it turns out that Georgetown and Rice are not alone in specifying deadlines, although some are less stern in the language they use.  For example, the University of Chicago wanted midyear reports by February 1—or “as soon as possible thereafter.”  Emory requires the report by January 27 for Early Decision II candidates and by February 15 for Regular Decision.  Cornell takes a less directive approach and suggests the midyear report should be forwarded as soon as midyear grades are available.  

Wash U wants counselors to mail the form and updated transcript “as soon as possible after January 1, 2015,” and Santa Clara University indicates on its website that the midyear report is “due by the end of January.”  At NYU, the report is due by March 1.  Harvard would like the report by mid-February, but Pomona states the report is “due” February 15. And Stanford says the midyear report “must be submitted no later than February 15.”

Although applicants are seldom penalized for inefficiencies or administrative delays at their schools, these plainly stated deadlines do make it clear that admissions offices reserve the right to simply “pass” on an application if materials aren’t submitted on time.

For the record, American, Catholic, George Washington, UVa, Christopher Newport , Goucher, William and Mary, Marymount, Roanoke, Mary Washington, Randolph-Macon, University of Richmond, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Washington College, Washington and Lee, and Johns Hopkins require midyear reports. Frostburg, Hollins, Howard, Loyola University Maryland, Lynchburg, UMBC, Randolph, Salisbury, Stevenson, VCU, and McDaniel do not.

Note that many high schools have policies requiring that midyear reports be sent to all colleges receiving transcripts in the admissions process—whether you (or the institution) want them to or not!

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