January 21, 2020: the first day of the second semester. Underclassmen continue with their academic development while Fifth Formers trudge through an overwhelming workload.
For the Sixth Form, it is not so simple. A number of Sixth Formers have not yet been accepted into college. Others donned their new colors in early November. This unique semester brings inconsistency to a rather uniform system and creates myriad student mindsets, ranging from indifference to anxiety.
Taking note of the present situation, the College Counseling Office sent an email to the Sixth Form. In their monthly “Form VI College Counseling Update,” the college counselors included a list of suggestions for students. Within the newsletter, they encouraged the Sixth Formers to “continue to do your best in the classroom [and be aware that] a drop in your academic performance during the second semester of your senior year could jeopardize your admission.”
Several Sixth Formers took the newsletter’s tone as innocuous. Others felt pre-judged and disheartened at the seeming lack of confidence in their ability to maintain academic performance.
“We send it every year,” Senior Associate Director of College Counseling Ms. Karen Ley said. “It was not this class specifically. We have had students whose admissions have been withdrawn in the past because they slacked off or admitted on [academic] probation.”
Not all Sixth Formers take this warning to heart, as many students encounter admissions uncertainty when their second-semester grades falter.
“We had a kid two Augusts ago who just thought, ‘Am I even going to college?’ because they kept him guessing. So for three weeks, he was like ‘Where am I going to be in the fall?’” Ms. Ley said.
Ms. Ley and the College Counseling Office focused on the cautionary tales of past mistakes.
Sixth Formers such as Student Body President Vincent Scauzzo ’20 drew a contrast between the tone of the Counseling Office and of other departments.
“I just think it’s surprising because it seems like the rest of the school is trying to help us enjoy second semester,” Scauzzo said. “There are way fewer honors courses, and the courses they do offer are a lot more interesting and enjoyable.”
“[Sixth Formers] are kinda bummed out when they hear grades still matter and that the main thing the college counseling office is focusing on is keeping grades up,” Scauzzo said.
“I have faith in our Form,” Scauzzo said. “We’ve crushed it so far. I know kids who have gotten into very high-achieving schools. I know plenty of my friends who haven’t gotten into schools are still working very hard. I don’t think the quality is going to go down at all.”
“I have faith in our Form. We’ve crushed it so far.”President Vincent Scauzzo ’20
Scauzzo views the second semester as an opportunity to try something new and take advantage of the rewarding opportunities and new areas of study Haverford offers.
The College Counselors’s message highlights the risk that members of the 2020 graduating class already accepted into college could allow their grades to slip. But others continue to work tirelessly with just a bit of pressure taken off their shoulders.
Sixth Former Chris Dehney said, “A lot of pressure comes off it. I may feel less apt to stay up until 12 o’clock one night studying for this test or doing this paper.”
This type of late-night decision conveys a different sense of slacking than completely giving up work.
“I think they do underestimate the ability of our class,” Dehney said.
“There’s always a couple of guys who are into college and say they’re done,” Sixth Former Carson De Marco said. “A small portion of our grade has that mentality but, for the most part, our grade has the mentality of ‘we should still care.’”
De Marco did not attribute the email as a direct challenge to the character of the Sixth Form.
“I would like to think that that email was just a matter of it being an annual email they send to check up on the parents and the students,” De Marco said.
“It’s fine to slack off a little bit,” Ms. Ley said. “We don’t want this crash. We don’t want this question of ‘How low can you go?’”