Can Colleges Revoke Offers of Admission?

on August 1, 2017

A college’s offer of admission is conditional and can be revoked under a variety of circumstances, even after the student has accepted the offer of admission.


According to the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), about a fifth of colleges withdraw at least one offer of admission each year. Still, a very small percentage of offers of admission are rescinded.


Senioritis is one of the most common reasons why a college or university might rescind its offer of admission. Colleges admit a student based on an expectation that the student’s grades during the senior year will be consistent with the student’s previous coursework. If there is a significant decline in academic performance, such as a drop from an A average to a C average, the college might withdraw its offer of admission.


Likewise, if the student does not graduate from high school and receive a diploma or its equivalent, the college can withdraw the offer of admission. Colleges also will be concerned if the student graduates from a different high school than the one listed on the application for admission. That might be a sign that the student was suspended or expelled by their previous high school, which are sufficient grounds for the college to turn an acceptance into a rejection.


Many colleges verify a student’s education credentials, especially for international students. If a student commits admissions fraud by lying on the application for admission, the college will withdraw the offer of admission. There is zero tolerance for fraud. If the fraud is detected after the student arrived on campus, the student will be expelled. Plagiarism and cheating in other circumstances also can lead to an offer of admission being revoked.


Moral turpitude is another reason why a student’s admission might be revoked. In 2017, Harvard University rescinded admission to at least 10 students for “behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity or moral character,” as reported by the Harvard Crimson student newspaper.


Although most colleges do not proactively review the social media posts of admitted students, they will do so if a problem is brought to their attention. Facebook is considered a public forum, even if a post is made in a closed group.


Criminal activity also can cause an offer of admission to be revoked. If the student is arrested, convicted or otherwise fails to adhere to the college’s community standards, the offer of admission will be withdrawn. Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to a loss of the offer of admission even if the student isn’t arrested.


Occasionally, a college sends offers of admission in error. A few colleges each year commit such admissions blunders and tell the students that they weren’t accepted a few days later.


Very rarely, a college might rescind offers of admission if too many students accept the offers of admission. The University of California at Irvine rescinded offers of admission to 499 students in 2017, after about 850 more students than expected accepted the offers of admission. The university said that it revoked the offers of admission based on academic performance during the senior year and failure to submit official high school transcripts and test scores by the deadline. In previous years the university would have been more lenient about minor deficiencies.


Finally, if a college learns that a student has paid deposits at more than one college, the college can revoke the offer of admission.

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