What’s a Revoked Admission and How You Can Avoid It

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a woman talking to a student about most popular degrees in us

What’s a Revoked Admission and How You Can Avoid It

Imagine the unthinkable happens: you’re admitted into the school of your choice, but before you can officially enroll, you receive notice that your admission offer has been revoked. You stare silently at the notification in shock, ashamed, worried, and scared.

Having your offer of admission revoked can be devastating, especially if you feel you’ve done nothing wrong. To avoid this terrible circumstance ever happening to you, it’s important to know what a revoked admission is and your school’s policies for rescinding admissions.

Admission Process

Before an offer of admission is made, students must complete an admission process that usually involves sending in an application with basic information and other application materials that vary depending on the major being applied for. Students usually have to submit several essays and statements along with transcripts, letters of recommendation, and resumes.

Every application then goes through an evaluation process in which a panel reviews all the application materials holistically considering a variety of factors and then makes a decision. Students are judged on their academic performance, their activities outside the classroom, whether they had a job or played a sport, if they won competitions or awards, and their goals for enrolling in college.

Group of students writing on their desks.

Students may be offered immediate enrollment, deferred enrollment, or enrollment to an alternative program. Student’s applications may also be rejected if they don’t meet minimum requirements or match what the program is looking for in potential students.

Due to the limited number of slots available each year, the majority of students who apply receive rejections.

Final Steps After Acceptance

When a student is offered admission, they will be required to send a final transcript of their final semesters grades. This means that even if a student gets accepted based on their academic record from 9th to the first semester of 12th, schools will still need to show how they ended their senior year. Their offer of admission is conditional and provisional provided students meet those final requirements.

The threat and lure of senioritis may tempt 12th grade students to slack off and not perform as well academically in their final semester.

It is important to reduce this urge as much as possible. Students can request deadline extensions and even exemptions for group projects, but not turning in assignments and failing tests can backfire on a student and derail their college aspirations.

Revoking Admission Offers

In extreme events, colleges and universities have been known to revoke offers of admission. Each college has an admission policy that governs when and how they can issue revoked admissions offers.

These policies are usually available online on the school’s admissions webpage. It is a good idea for students to be made aware of these policies to make sure they avoid their admissions offers being rescinded.

Revocation Policies

Cornell University has its admission revocation policy posted to its website under its APPLY tab. Students should review this information when they are doing their pre-application research. Cornell’s policy states that they can revoke admission at any time under certain circumstances even after a student is in attendance.

Students will do well to avoid any of the causes of admission revocation at any time in their attendance at the school.

Cornell cites three specific reasons they might revoke an admission offer:

  1. The student’s final transcript shows a significant drop in academic performance, including failing and dropping classes.
  2. A student fails to graduate from the academic program in progress at the time of admission and is either expelled or drops out.
  3. A student’s behavior is inappropriate, and the university learns that an admitted applicant has engaged in behavior prior to attendance that indicates a significant lack of judgment, integrity, or moral character.

Though not as common as you might fear, students may have their admissions rescinded for a variety of reasons within those three categories that indicate they would not be a good fit for a particular higher education community. It is at each school’s sole discretion to decide if a student’s record or actions represent them.

Causes of Admissions Being Revoked

A student may have their offer of admission revoked for a variety of reasons, but the three most common are grades on the final transcript, disciplinary violations, and providing false or fraudulent information.

All it takes is one petty and jealous classmate, your concerned school counselor, or a disappointed teacher. It is easy to send an anonymous email to your admission’s office about something you’ve done wrong, and suddenly, you’re threatened with not being able to enroll in your top school choice and under investigation.

Failing Grades

A senior student who ordinarily gets As and Bs suddenly decides to stop going to class and completely stop turning in any work. They even drop one of their AP classes. The students’ grades drop drastically to Cs, Ds, and an F. The student submits their final transcript to their school of choice. Unsurprisingly, the student receives a notice that their offer of admission is being revoked.

a female student sitting and appears to be thinking

Failing grades in the final transcript and a drop in grades shows the admissions team something important about you as a student.

They show that you thought the hard work was completed, and you could skate by on your laurels from previous semesters. The rigor of college demands a continuous commitment to learning and growth.

A failing transcript indicates a student might not be ready for college. Having an admission offer revoked for failing grades should be incentive enough to stay on top of your performance until graduation is complete. A college can absolutely revoke acceptance for bad grades.

If there were extenuating circumstances, like family problems or chronic health issues, then the school needs to be made aware of this information as soon as possible.

If your parents lost their job and you had to get a job to help the family, you’ll want to include this in information you send to the school along with your transcript. If you were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and missed weeks of school due to a flare up, this should be explained as thoroughly as you are comfortable sharing.

Letting the school know of challenges you might have faced academically in your final semester can go a long way toward getting support. Instead of revoking your admissions offer, they might instead ask you to take remedial courses, assign you to a specific advisor, or give you the option to postpone your enrollment.

Disciplinary Violations

While the freedom of speech and social media have been in conflict for many years, students who engage in online behaviors that are against a school’s code of conduct are also at risk of losing their offers of admission.

Some admissions officers include a search of a student’s social media in their application review. Students should always be aware and reserved in what they post online.

View of students talking in front of a building.

Imagine a student shows up to a party with alcohol and illegal drugs. Several students participate and record videos to post on their social media. The videos are screen recorded and sent over to the college where the student had just announced their acceptance.

Within days, every student seen drinking in the videos has their offers of admissions revoked along with other disciplinary actions.

Whether a student has violated a policy or committed an actual crime, if the school is made aware, they are required to investigate the situation and make a decision based on their own policies.

In recent years, students have had admissions offers revoked from Ivy League schools after being caught in possession of drugs and drug paraphernelia, for posting sexually offensive memes in private group chats, for sending racist Snapchat videos, and for making offensive comments in public forums online. These are all reasons that schools have decided to revoke admissions offers.

In each scenario, the school conducted their own investigation and made a decision based on what they were able to confirm. Having an offer of admission revoked in such a public and humiliating way can be devastating for the students involved and their families.

It can also have long term and far-reaching consequences. It is better to proceed with caution on social media. You may end up being reviewed by one of the admission officers who have reported checking a student’s online record.

Even if a student has their inappropriate behaviors or online comments revealed, schools may decide not to revoke their admission. Citing the first amendment, many universities have opted not to revoke a student’s admission offer despite purporting to be against the comments made.

These schools state they have a legal obligation to adhere to the first amendment right to freedom of speech and will not use their admission to punish or penalize free speech. In many of these cases, the students end up deciding not to enroll on their own.

Online communities have created petitions and staged protests to have a student’s offer of admission revoked. Sometimes, the calls for punishment are upheld. This is especially true for schools with a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Admitting a student who has posted racist comments online or in videos would work against the school’s mission in that area. The student clearly wouldn’t be a good fit for the school. The same is true for students convicted of crimes, especially serious felonies.

A student who failed to disclose their felony conviction had their admission offer revoked. A student in the midst of a trial had their admission offer revoked. It is not simply making comments online but any egregious behavior that violates any part of the school’s code of conduct.

Getting into any kind of trouble during your senior year should be avoided. Have fun but enjoy the end of your high school career without jeopardizing your future with illegal or immoral behaviors.

False Information

A student wanted to improve their odds for acceptance into an elite school and selected a different racial category than the one they were born in. It was revealed that the student selected Black/African American but technically was not.

They wrote their application essay with verifiably false information, such as being poor when their parent’s reported income revealed they were upper class. When the admitting school was informed by an anonymous tip, they revoked the offer of admission stating the student lied.

Two women are talking while walking in the hallway.

Lying in any part of an application can lead to a college taking their admissions offer back. In recent years, students have been caught cheating on standardized tests, and this has resulted in prosecutions for many well-known people involved.

Beyond simply lying about one’s race or family income, plagiarizing essays, providing false information about extracurricular activities, family hardships, or accomplishments can be reasons and grounds for admissions being revoked.

Each school has a code of conduct that it expects its students to adhere to. Having integrity and being honest are usually the most basic level of expected morality. If a student is caught lying, depending on the extent of the falsehood, their lies may result in their admission being rescinded.

Avoid thinking that you need to lie and present yourself in an altered way to secure admissions. If the school finds out you lied on your application to get in, this can backfire on you terribly. Tell the truth, be authentically yourself, and you will find a school where your traits will benefit you in the long run.

How to Avoid a Revoked Admission

The most obvious way to avoid having your admission status revoked is to act with morality and ethics. Think about how you want people to perceive you and behave in ways that align with that perception.

Be hardworking, so that your grades stay consistent to the level when you applied. Because a college can revoke acceptance for bad grades, aim to keep your grades as high or higher than they were when you applied. Don’t drop AP classes in your final semester to give yourself an easier time. Schools will want to see how you ended your performance in those classes.

View of students answering in their desks.

Be respectful, and treat everyone with dignity. You don’t have to be doing anti-racist work to not be racist. Think about whether you’d want your school’s admission’s office to read your comments or see your posts online. Don’t post anything that could get you in trouble if it were made public.

Be truthful, and don’t lie to make yourself look good. Most things can be verified, and admissions officers will devote time and resources to verifying application materials, especially if they notice discrepancies or receive anonymous reports.

These basic character and personality traits will help you to avoid many of the reasons students have seen their college offers taken back.

Likelihood of Having Admissions Revoked

Admittedly, the rates of admission revocation are low. Some schools may only revoke admission from one student in a typical year. Private schools also tend to rescind admissions offers more often than public schools, which is surprising considering that public schools are accountable to the state and federal laws and agencies, whereas private schools are not bound by the same.

If you are worried an offer of admission might be revoked, reach out to your contact in the admissions office of your school as soon as possible. Getting ahead of negative information that might come to light can demonstrate your ability to hold yourself accountable.

You can offer your explanation and take responsibility for whatever may have happened. Being forthright may help sway an admissions team away from punishment toward reconciliation.

How to Appeal a Revoked Admission

If your offer of admission has been revoked, there is usually an appeal process you can undertake. Schools will give you an opportunity to write a statement or conduct an interview. They will hear your side of the story and give you the option to discuss any evidence they have received or gathered.

If your statement and interview provide a reasonable explanation for your actions and behaviors, the school may retract their rescinded offer and allow you to enroll with stipulations. This is the best case scenario.

In the worst case scenario, your statement does not detract from other evidence against you and the revoked offer stands.

In this situation, you will need to accept the decision and look for other alternatives to continue your higher education plans. This may mean applying to or accepting admissions to other schools or searching for certification programs.

It might be useful to have an NDA or gag order signed to avoid future and long-term problems. Having a disciplinary violation follow you to another school could block your enrollment anywhere you go if they are all made aware and it violates their policies, too.

How AdmissionSight Can Help

At AdmissionSight, we strive to help students get the most favorable outcomes for their enrollment process. Schedule a consult today, and we can help you achieve your goal while avoiding admissions offers being revoked. We prepare students to be successful in Ivy League environments without the threat of negativity derailing their goals.




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