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College should adopt policies to end "senior slump," says report

July 9, 2001

Students who slack off during their senior year of high school are reacting rationally to a college-admissions process that provides them few incentives to work hard in their final years, according to a report released this summer.

The report, "Overcoming the High School Senior Slump," says colleges could reduce the cost of remedial education by dealing with this issue.

The problem is that college admissions decisions are typically based on academic work through the junior year. "Students know how to game the system," said Michael W. Kirst, author of the report, who was quoted in an article in the May 14 edition of "The Chronicle of Higher Education."

Kirst recommends that colleges and universities set explicit standards for senior-year performance and that they withdraw admissions offers if students fail to meet those standards. "There is no high school I know that will not do what colleges and universities tell them to do," he added.

The report was released by the Institute for Educational Leadership and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Copies can be order by emailing