There are many wonderful things that high school students may do to help them have high grades and get accepted to the colleges of their choice, too. However, there are also things that they may commit that could lead to disciplinary actions against them, such as being suspended, which could put their dream of having a college degree at risk.
If you were suspended, you might be dying to know if the college you wish to go to cares to learn about it.
So, do colleges care about suspensions?
There is a yes-no question on a college application form asking the student if he or she has committed misconduct that has led to disciplinary action. Colleges want to know whether or not applicants got suspended, but they also ask to give more information about before making a decision.
Before you start to panic because you were suspended in high school, continue reading first.
Below you will come across a few more important details about this matter, such as the fact that having a tainted disciplinary record doesn’t necessarily mean rejection from the college of your choice.
By the time you reach the end of this article, you will have an idea that being suspended in high school will not be seen as a death sentence to a college applicant.
Keeping the Fact Away From View is Practically Impossible
Even before you open your mouth to talk about your suspension, there is one thing that will mention it beforehand. It is none other than your transcript, which is a complete record of your grades or scores throughout your high school.
A transcript (which is also sometimes called transcript of records or ToR) bears the following:
- Personal information, such as your name, address, and date of birth
- All the classes that you took in high school, organized from oldest to the most recent
- The grades that you obtained in each class
- Your GPA
- The scores of proficiency tests you took, like SAT and ACT
Usually, high schools also place on the transcript the disciplinary actions taken against a student, such as a suspension, as a result of misconduct. However, some schools put matters about infractions elsewhere, like on the so-called permanent record, which we will talk about later.
To Disclose or Not to Disclose: Here’s What You Should Do
Especially if you are applying to the college of your wildest dreams, it can be quite tempting to make your college application form look impressive.
This is especially true if you’re not the best high school student on the planet. Stating a lie may seem right for any applicant who got suspended back in high school.
However, it is a good idea to fight off every urge to keep the college admissions officers from knowing that you were suspended. You will realize the importance of this when the truth comes out in the open sooner or later.
There are a couple of things that could happen once you get busted for lying about it:
- If the college admissions officers learn that you lied on your college application form by ticking the “no” box instead of the “yes” box when you were asked if you received any disciplinary action in high school, there is a huge chance that you will be rejected if the truth comes out before a decision is made.
- Suppose your lie was discovered after you have been accepted. In that case, it is very much likely that your acceptance will be taken back, which means that the little lie you did to make yourself look better in the eyes of the college admissions officers nullified your extracurricular activities, personal essay, and others that the college liked.
The importance of not telling a lie on your college application form cannot be stressed enough.
It’s true that a college won’t file a lawsuit against you for trying to hide your suspension. However, it can perform other steps that will show that it doesn’t like applicants who lie on their college application forms, such as rejecting them.
Just in case, by some miracle, the college admissions officers failed to uncover your lie and accepted you, refrain from thinking that you are off the hook for good.
Did you know that college degrees are not permanent? It is because of the fact that the schools that give them can take them back.
This is true even after decades have passed since the degrees were handed out. If the college learned that you lied on your college application form, it has every right to revoke a degree that you earned in it!
Before you decide to lie on your college application form, ask yourself first if you are willing to bear the consequences, including the revocation of your college degree after working hard for it for years.
The bottom line is: You should always make known any disciplinary action taken against you, such as a suspension.
Turning a High School Suspension From a Curse to a Blessing
Just because you were suspended in high school doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a dark cloud above your head that will follow you around and keep you from having a bright day for the rest of your life.
As a matter of fact, your suspension, that very thing which you consider as some form of a curse, can be turned into a blessing.
And once you have pulled it off, it could help you easily get the thumbs up from the college admissions officers. Yes, even a blemish on your transcript that is a disciplinary action could work to your advantage!
Everyone knows that it is perfectly normal for most teenage kids to do stupid things. They range anywhere from forgetting to do their assignment to stealing a kiss from their crushes.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad people. Usually, it’s just that they lack the experience that can help them make the right choices each time.
However, there are also things that some high school students may do that could cause them to become suspended for bad behavior committed on school grounds or elsewhere during a school activity, such as:
- Being disobedient or disorderly on purpose
- Displaying violent behavior
- Possessing dangerous weapons
- Hurting or threatening to hurt someone
- Possessing, selling or giving away illegal drugs
- Committing or attempting to commit extortion or robbery
- Engaging in an act of bullying
Different schools have different grounds for suspending their students. However, almost always, the reason for the suspension of a high school student has something to do with committing a serious offense.
Colleges know very well that teens, because of their inexperience, are susceptible to making mistakes. This is why, in some instances, they do not allow a suspension to keep them from being accepted.
As a matter of fact, your suspension could help you get to your desired college despite it being mentioned on your transcript.
How? By showing you regret it and that you learned your lessons.
Especially if you can convince the college admissions officers that your suspension has made you a better person, and thus would make for the perfect college student, it is possible for you to be accepted.
How to Explain Suspension on College Application
When applying to a college, you can provide more information about your high school suspension in many ways.
The fact that you are asked to give supplementary details after answering “yes” to that part where you’re asked if your bad behavior has resulted in a disciplinary action means that the college wants to hear your side of the story.
In other words, there is hope for an applicant who has been suspended back in high school!
You can talk about your suspension in various ways. For one, on your college application form, you can discuss the details on a space exclusive for it.
It is also possible to mention your suspension on your personal essay. This is especially true if the suspension has a profound impact on your life as a high school student and a person in general.
You may do the same if you believe that the college will be interested to know more about the suspension and the reason behind it.
Speaking of which, you may ask your high school guidance counselor, who is the best person to write a letter of recommendation for a student who has received disciplinary action, to talk about the suspension.
As mentioned above, a suspension is a bad thing that can be turned into a good thing, in the form of acceptance into the college. However, there is a right way to do it so that you can make your suspension work to your advantage instead of ruining your application. Here are some simple dos and don’ts:
Admit that you deserved the suspension
Doing so shows regret and humility, both of which are important components of being apologetic. It is perfectly fine to feel embarrassed about the misconduct and the resulting disciplinary action taken against you by your school.
What’s important is that you show the college admissions officers that you are sorry about what happened.
Tell about what you have learned from it
Other than lacking in maturity and experience, high schoolers tend to commit mistakes because it is a way for them to learn some life lessons.
Without making mistakes, it is unlikely for them to learn about things, such as the perks of making the right decisions and the consequences of making the wrong ones.
When talking about your suspension, make sure that you mention what lessons you have learned and how it has changed your life inside and outside the campus.
Confirm that it made you a better person
Colleges want their students to be well-rounded individuals. It is in this department where you can make your suspension an asset.
Did it make you a studious high schooler? Did it turn you into a respectful person? Did it encourage you to create a club? Did it inspire you to help with the community?
The more dramatic the changes that happened because of the suspension, the better your chances of winning the college admissions officers’ hearts.
Don’t say you don’t want to talk about it
The reason college admissions officers are giving you the chance to tell the story from your perspective is that they want to see whether your suspension should keep you from being accepted.
So, in other words, they are giving you a fighting chance. Never waste that opportunity by not giving the effort to talk about your suspension. It may come across as arrogance, and no college would want any arrogant student walking freely on its campus.
Don’t put the blame on someone else
Earlier, it was said that it is important that you own up to the suspension. There is no sign of owning up and being sorry in holding someone responsible for your misconduct or giving justification to it.
Never say things like “it’s the fault of my brainless classmate” or “it’s because the teacher was inconsiderate” when providing details on your high school suspension. Your bad attitude could end up being the reason you are not accepted to the college, not your suspension.
However, refrain from assuming that a suspension could be the key to getting accepted to a college. If you have been suspended several times and the reasons for each one is severe, you may get a rejection.
Don’t list Middle School Suspensions
Should you also talk about any suspension in middle school?
There is no need to do so. In fact, colleges do not care about your grades, conduct, and other academic and behavioral matters before you set foot in high school. When applying to a college, your high school performance is the only thing that matters.
Does High School Suspension go to Your Permanent Record
Aside from the transcript, there are other things that college admissions officers tend to look at when making a decision.
Some of them are extracurricular activities, hobbies and interests, personal essays, and recommendation letters. Clearly, they are interested to know a few more things about the applicants than just their grades.
Many students, especially those who know for a fact that they were not particularly saintly during their high school years, fear that colleges will also check out their permanent record.
Before we talk about this, let us first focus on establishing something: the existence of the permanent record.
Some students believe that the permanent record is just a myth, while others believe that it is real.
Those who refuse to recognize the existence of the permanent record think that it is just to keep everyone from behaving badly. No high school student would want to hear a teacher say, “this will go on your permanent record!”
Well, here’s the deal: the permanent record does exist! However, it is not a record that has nothing but every single terrible thing that a high school student did.
You can think of the permanent record as something that has all sorts of important information about you.
Some of them include your name, your parents’ name, home address, phone number, birth date, attendance, important exam scores, special awards received, and schools attended earlier.
Definitely, your permanent record may contain disciplinary actions that the school may have taken against you.
Regarding the word “permanent” on its name, your permanent record is not as permanent as your transcript. Usually, a school gets rid of a permanent record once a student has already graduated or is no longer enrolled.
The permanent record is also confidential. It means that yours won’t be seen by your friends, employers, or future spouse.
However, there are instances where your permanent record can be requested by the college that you are applying to. It may also be accessed in case of an emergency or for a court proceeding.
So, there you go. The permanent record does exist. However, it contains many other things than just infractions, as many high school students believe.
Before You Send That College Application to the Admissions Office
Colleges want to know whether or not applicants were suspended. Such is evidenced by the presence of a yes-no question on a college application form about the matter, as well as an extra space where a student may provide more information on being suspended, if applicable.
However, just because an applicant was suspended does not mean that he or she will get rejected right away.
So, in other words, if you got suspended in high school, it should not stop you from going to college. Depending on the grounds for the suspension and how it has changed you, it may not keep you from being accepted.
A college may take into account your suspension. But do take note that it is not the only thing that the college admissions officers will consider when coming up with a decision.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.