The short answer is YES -- so don't give them any reason to! While it is very rare for a college to revoke a student's acceptance, it CAN and does happen. According to an article in the New York Times, Northwestern University rescinds 1 to 2 offers every year, and Connecticut College sends around 10 warning letters each summer. According to a survey conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC):
The 2009 State of College Admission Report states that during the Fall 2008 admission cycle, 21 percent of colleges reported that they had revoked an admission offer, compared to 35 percent in 2007. The average number of offers that were revoked was 10. The most common reason that colleges indicated for rescinding admission offers was final grades (65 percent), followed by disciplinary issues (35 percent) and falsification of application information (29 percent). Public colleges were more likely than private colleges to have rescinded an offer of admission due to final grades (84 percent versus 49 percent). More selective colleges were more likely to have revoked an offer of admission for disciplinary reasons.
Many high school seniors tend to loosen up a little after receiving college acceptance letters, which is to be expected. Even high achieving students give serious consideration to skipping their Advanced Placement exams and heading to the beach. But senior slump is serious business to colleges. Most of those highly coveted acceptance letters that seniors receive include a friendly warning that their admission is contingent upon the successful completion of 12th grade. And colleges DO check to make sure that incoming freshman have successfully completed twelfth grade by reviewing their final high school transcripts over the summer.
Getting a B or two second semester senior year isn't likely to raise any eyebrows. But going from all A's to mostly C's? That is one way to get a letter from the Dean of Students asking you to explain the situation and containing phrases like "academic probation."
Toward the end of July last year, we received a phone call from a mother who was quite upset. Her daughter, who was about to begin the process of packing for college, had just received a thin envelope from the university where she planned to spend the next four years.
Inside this envelope was a letter from the dean of students who had reviewed Louise’s final high school grades and was not convinced that she was ready for college. The dean was extremely concerned about the drop in Louise’s grades during the second half of senior year from A’s and B’s to mostly C’s.
He asked her to produce a detailed plan of action for the first semester of college but made clear that submitting a plan would not automatically allow her to keep her spot in the freshman class.
Over the next week, we worked with Louise to devise a strategy to help her make a successful transition to college. It included regular meetings with her teachers and her advisor, limits on extracurricular activities and a reduced course load. Louise submitted the plan and, after a few anxious days, received a stamp of approval from the dean.
She was luckier than the student we met with two summers ago, who had his offer rescinded after being caught drinking alcohol on prom night. This should go without saying, but in addition to keeping your grades up, don't do anything illegal that could jeopardize your future. A little Senioritis is okay, but know where to draw the line!
For further reading, check out 5 Ways to Get Your College Admission Rescinded from HerCampus and A Warning: Colleges Can Change Their Minds from the New York Times.