This is the start of the season when we start deciding whether to revoke admission offers. The season starts when final grades become available, and lasts throughout the summer as we receive various exam scores and transcripts from around the world. It’s always a bit painful for us, as we have to make hard decisions in some cases. It’s certainly painful for applicants who lose their offer.
Almost all of our admission offers are made conditionally, i.e. they depend on achieving certain final averages and grades in required courses. The specifics depend on the school system and sometimes other individual details, but as an example an Ontario school applicant is required to maintain a minimum 78% average and no required courses below 70%. That shouldn’t be difficult, considering most of our programs required a mid to high 80s average to even be considered for an offer. However, there is typically a small handful of people that come up short in some way.
We look at each case individually in detail. We look at several factors such as: what were the grades like when the offer was made compared to now?; are there verifiable and significant extenuating circumstances?; is the applicant likely to succeed in our program if admitted, based on our previous experience? We may get several opinions internally and try to come up with a consensus decision.
The decision to revoke an offer is never taken lightly. We know that an offer revocation possibly means the end of someone’s plans for university this year. On the other hand, we have a long waiting list of applicants who maybe had better final grades and would like a spot if possible. So there’s a bit of a fairness issue involved too, and in many cases we have to be hard-nosed (uncompromising) about the conditions.
I think the most unfortunate cases are the ones where the applicant was looking very good and got an early offer (perhaps in February), and then their final grades drop significantly. We know from talking to high school teachers that some students slack off once they get their offer, which is one reason why we hesitate to send out too many early offers. It doesn’t help their chances of success in university if they start with a weak preparation from the last semester of high school. And slacking-off is also not a very promising personality trait for university success.
Hopefully we won’t get too many cases to deal with this year. We have more pleasant tasks we would rather deal with, like getting ready for the 2013 admission cycle and advising those applicants.