Can College Acceptance Be Revoked?

Table of Contents

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

There have been any number of stories about students who have had their acceptance to college rescinded after improper or controversial posts they’ve made online go viral. This is due to a little-discussed phenomenon called conditional admissions, or conditional acceptance. So, what is conditional acceptance?

Almost all offers of admission are conditional, meaning that the college reserves the right to revoke the offer if a student’s grades fall precipitously, if a student violates the school’s code of conduct, or if admissions officials determine that any part of their application was deceptive or dishonest. Many students know that they should keep their grades up during their last few months of senior year for this reason, but they are unaware of the behavioral expectations their future university is holding them to. 

This article will discuss the reasons why colleges decide to revoke acceptances, and how you can ensure you don’t become one of the students making headlines for the most unfortunate reasons. 

The Importance of Social Media

While social media has existed in some form since IRC channels, it has grown in prominence and societal influence every year. Ideas and messages from social media are increasingly publicized in the outside world, and often create lasting impacts for those who create and share them. 

Still, that does not mean the broader world has adapted to this new reality, and many people treat what they say online as private, rather than public. This can lead to embarrassment when jokes or photos meant for friends reach a broader–and possibly even global–audience. These kinds of posts can affect admissions chances if colleges see them before making an admissions decision, or even cause colleges to reconsider an offer of admission. 

Social media is important, and mistakes on it can hurt your chances of college admissions if they’re truly egregious. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that doesn’t happen. 

Cleaning Your Social Media Presence

All social media exists on a sliding scale of anonymity. Depending on where your accounts fall on this scale, you will be at more or less risk of being “seen” online by the schools you’ve applied to. 

At one end of the scale are sites where your name is inherently tied to the account, and everything you say is easily traced back to you. This extends to platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Next are sites where you have a permanent identity which is often, but not always, tied to your name. Twitter is one such example. Then, there are sites where your identity is known by some, but not all those you interact with, such as Reddit and Discord. At the far end of the scale are the most anonymous sites–typically message boards without permanent accounts or any other information tying individuals to the content they create and share.  

The more closely an account is tied to your name and face, the more you should regulate the content you share. This means you should avoid posting offensive comments, harassing other users, and uploading images of criminal acts (including underaged drinking). This is especially true if you are going to be interacting with a school’s official social media in any way using your personal accounts. 

The more anonymous an account is, and the further removed from your real identity, the less it feels like anyone will notice what you say. Still, you should be careful whenever you’re posting online–some bored internet fanatics make a habit of finding the real names of those behind anonymous accounts (often known as “doxxing”). Once they’ve done so, they can publish that information for the whole world to see. 

While freedom of speech is a guaranteed right, this only applies to government censorship of speech. Thus, private entities, like universities, can still punish you based on your words or other shared media, given that they oppose their values or are generally inappropriate or offensive. 

To make sure your accounts are clear, review your posted content and delete posts, photos, or comments made where you participate in or glorify illegal activity. Posts which are political in nature are usually acceptable, so long as they are not racist, sexist, or violent. 

Universities strive to be bastions of free speech, where ideas may be discussed openly. That said, there are limits, and it is best to err on the side of caution when dealing with university admissions. 

Other Factors in Conditional Acceptance

While scandalous posts on social media are the most widely discussed way to have your college admission revoked, it’s relatively uncommon. It’s far more likely for admission to be revoked because of significant grade drops during the second half of senior year. The term “Senior Spring” is well known among students everywhere. As summer looms and college beckons, high school seniors inevitably feel their interest in high school waning, and lose motivation. 

While teachers are aware of this phenomenon and sympathize to some degree, colleges are often stricter. If grades fall precipitously in the time after acceptance to a college, the offer may be revoked. Colleges are seeking students interested in learning for its own sake, who are able to self-motivate even when exceptional grades are no longer needed for college applications. 

This does not mean you have to go above and beyond. Instead, try to maintain the same standards you have always held yourself to. The college admitted you based on the grades you had; maintain them (or at least stay in the same general range) and you’ll be fine. 

Violating a school’s ethical conduct expectations is another reason student acceptances may be revoked. Getting caught plagiarizing or committing other offenses, legal or otherwise, will frequently result in a revocation of admission offers. You can of course still enjoy your remaining time in high school–just make sure to do so in a responsible manner.

Finally, if admissions officers determine that your application was fraudulent, dishonest, or intentionally misleading, they will revoke your offer of admission. This relates to the code of conduct mentioned above but has recently gained attention and prominence in the aftermath of the Varsity Blues scandal. Most students will not need to worry about this; it simply serves as a reminder to be your honest self when applying to college.

Final Thoughts on Conditional Acceptance

When colleges look for students, they are seeking a whole, complex person, not just a brilliant scholar or promising athlete. They expect the people they are admitting to measure up to the ideals and values of the college, but they understand that people are different in background, ideas, and values. While they do support a variety of viewpoints and intellectual debate, they also want to uphold their standards of what is acceptable in the public forum. Think of social media as a tool – almost like fire. Used well it is incredibly useful, but if you aren’t careful, things can easily get out of control.

Conditional admissions as a whole act as insurance for colleges, who want to make sure that the students they’ve admitted live up to the picture they’ve painted of themselves in their application. This process, and admissions as a whole, can be challenging. At Ivy Scholars we have a wide breadth of experience advising people through every step of the admissions process. If you have further questions about conditional acceptance or any other aspect of college admissions strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Need help with college admissions?

Download our "Guide to Everything," a 90-page PDF that covers everything you need to know about the college admission process.

More To Explore

College Applications

Women Only Liberal Arts Colleges

There was a time when all colleges were gender segregated, usually to the detriment of women. Today, all the nation’s top research universities are coeducational,

Wendy Y.
Below is my son's review. He was accepted to his dream Ivy League school!

From an admitted student's perspective, I am incredibly grateful to have met Sasha - he has been instrumental in helping me achieve my educational dreams (Ivy League), all while being an absolute joy (he's a walking encyclopedia, only funnier!) to work with.

Many people are dissuaded from seeking a college counselor because they think they can get into their desired college(s) either way. Honestly, going that route is a bit short-sighted and can jeopardize your odds of acceptances after years of hard work. The sad truth is, the American education system (even if you attend a fancy private school and ESPECIALLY if you go to a public school) doesn't really tell students how to write a compelling and authentic application. Going into the admissions process alone, without speaking with an advisor, is like going to court without a lawyer - you put yourself at a significant disadvantage because you don't have all the facts in front of you, or the help you need to negotiate the system.

That said, you need a good lawyer just like you need a good college counselor. And that's where Sasha distinguishes himself from the crowd of people claiming they'll get you into Harvard. I came to Sasha worried about and frankly dumbfounded by the college admissions process. I was unsure what to write about and how to go about drafting the essay that perfectly captured my passion, interests, and self. And I was highly skeptical that anyone could really help me. But, damn, did Sasha prove me wrong. From the beginning, Sasha amazed me with his understanding of the process, and ability to lend clarity and direction to me when I desperate needed it. After interviewing me about my background, experiences, activities, outlook, and vision, he helped me see qualities about myself I had not previously considered 'unique' or 'stand-out.' This process of understanding myself was so incredibly important in laying the groundwork for the essays I eventually wrote, and I'm certain I would've drafted boring, inauthentic essays without it.

Looking back, Sasha's talent is that he can see where your strengths lie, even when you don't see them. The truth is, although we don't always realize it, everyone has a unique story to tell. Sasha helped me see mine, and with his big-picture insight I was able to write the application that truly encapsulated my life and vision. He inspired me to dig deeper and write better, challenging me to revise and revise until my essays were the most passionate and authentic work I had ever written. As clichéd as that sounds, that's really what universities are looking for. In retrospect, it makes sense - in the real world passionate (not simply intelligent) individuals are the ones who make a difference in the world, and those are the individuals colleges would like to have associated with their brand.

In the end, I was accepted to the college of my dreams, a feat I could not have achieved without the direction Sasha lent to me. Essays (and the personal narrative you develop through your application) matter so much, and can literally make or break your application. I have seen so many of my 'qualified' friends receive rejections because they wrote contrived essays that didn't truly represent who they were; conversely, I have also seen so many friends with shorter resumes accepted because they were able to articulate their story in a genuinely passionate and authentic way - I fall into the latter category.

As a former admissions officer at Johns Hopkins, Sasha knows what types of essays jibe well with universities, an invaluable asset to have in the admissions process. He is responsive, flexible, creative, positive, and witty. For anyone who is serious about going into the college admissions process informed and prepared, I highly recommend Sasha.
Arda E.
I used Ivy Scholars to mainly help me with college applications. Within weeks of using this service, Sasha was able to simplify the already complex process. When it came to writing the Common App essay, Sasha didn’t just help with grammar and syntax, he brought my essays to life. Sasha also worked tirelessly to help solidify my extracurricular activities, including research and internship opportunities. Without his help, I would have never had an impressive resume.

Sasha is not only an extremely knowledgeable tutor, but also a genuine brother figure. His guidance, throughout my last two years of high school, was everything I needed to get me an acceptance letter from my dream schools (UC Berkeley, Tufts, Emory).

When it came to testing, Ivy Scholars worked like a charm. Sasha offered a very comprehensive plan when it came to completely acing my standardized tests. Without his test taking strategies I would have never gotten straight 5s on my AP tests and a 35 on the ACT.

Working with Sasha, I didn’t just become a good student, I became a genuine scholar.
Samson S.
We worked with Ivy Scholars during my son's senior year. I was concerned that we may be too late to take advantage of college advising but the Ivy Scholars team quickly and confidently directed us through the steps to ensure no deadlines were missed. Sasha's knowledge about schools, what they looked for in candidates, and how to maneuver the application process was invaluable. Mateo and Ryan worked with my son to help him create an essay that would get noticed and I am so appreciative he had their guidance.

Prior to securing Ivy Scholars, we tried using a less-expensive online service which was a terrible experience. As a parent, Ivy Scholars brought peace of mind to an area that was frankly overwhelming. This service was invaluable in the knowledge that we gained throughout the process. He has also met with my freshman daughter to provide guidance for her high school courses, career paths, extracurricular activities, and more.

Prior to signing with Ivy Scholars, I tried a less expensive online service and was very disappointed.

As a result of our work with Ivy Scholars, I am pleased to say that my son will be attending Stern Business School at New York University this fall! I highly recommend Ivy Scholars. Highly recommend!