The University of Washington has begun revoking admission for students whose academic performance takes a dive during their senior year of high school.
University officials reviewed applicants' final high-school transcripts over the summer and rescinded 23 offers of admission.
A form letter sent to such students states: "(We) regret that we had to take this action and hope you will find an educational alternative that meets your needs."
When classes began last week, another 180 freshmen had received disapproving letters for the "significant downturn" in their academic performance.
It's the first time the school has revoked students' admissions based on their senior year performance.
"In the past, frankly, we didn't have the resources to go over (final transcripts) with a fine-tooth comb. Unless it was absolutely in your face, we weren't going to withdraw admission," said Philip Ballinger, the UW's director of admissions.
The change stems from the university's new system of not relying solely on grades to make its admission decisions. Additional staff members have been brought in to review each applicant, as well as more carefully consider final transcripts.
Reviewers found that students' grades plummeted, they failed a required course such as math or listed challenging senior courses on their applications but then dropped or failed to complete the courses.
The university has a mid-January deadline for students to submit applications, but unlike other schools, it doesn't initially require transcripts. Instead, students must accurately report grades and courses.
Students learn their admission status in the spring and must confirm acceptance by May 1.
Although often-overlooked at most schools, admission depends on students maintaining an acceptable level of study throughout their senior year. At UW, students and high schools must submit a final transcript by July 1.
After a two-week appeal period is exhausted, the UW doesn't give any special consideration to students whose offers are withdrawn. Students can try to transfer back after completing a year or two somewhere else.
High school admissions officers and counselors applauded UW's move, saying private schools have long reviewed final transcripts.
"At Roosevelt, we think it's wonderful. We're always telling students that the second semester of their senior year counts. But then when they blow off a class and nothing happens, it's hard for them to take us seriously," said Wendy Krakauer, head counselor at Seattle's Roosevelt High School. "This gives us a lot of ammunition."
Classes begin at Washington State University in August, more than a month earlier than UW, leaving staff little time to review final transcripts before students enroll, said Wendy Peterson, WSU's director of admissions.
However, students can be held back from starting spring semester until they complete all requirements, Peterson added.
Three admission offers were rescinded by Seattle University this year, said Michael McKeon, dean of admissions. Each will have a chance to apply again for winter quarter after an acceptable performance at a community college in the fall, he said.
"If they're not motivated, they're going to drag down the other people who are," McKeon said. "It's a heck of a lot better that it happens to a child at 17 rather than at 27, when they might get fired on their first job."
— The Associated Press