Can Student Who Flunked Freshman Year Start Over with a Clean Slate?

Question: My grandson failed his freshman year for non attendance of classes. He appears to have grown up and now wants to reenter college. Can he make application and request only high school transcript. There were no credits earned at his first attempt in college.

Your grandson MUST report his ill-fated college experience. However, admission officials can be very understanding when it comes to students who made a false start as your grandson did and then mature. But all college applications ask about previous college experience, and failure to disclose the truth could land your grandson in hot water. I have heard cautionary tales about students who were not forthcoming on their applications and who were later expelled from their college on the brink of graduation, despite a successful experience there.

When applying to colleges this time around, your grandson should write an essay or supplementary letter about how he screwed up and why he feels as if he’s ready to buckle down now. Ideally, he can provide references that corroborate this. For instance, if he has held a job or taken any courses, there may be an employer or teacher who would be willing to write about how he has matured and/or succeeded.

Do you, as the grandma, also see evidence that your grandson is ready to try again? If so, you might want to encourage him to take a community college class or two this summer just to prove to himself—and to others—that he is prepared to be a full-time student.

As noted above, college admission officials recognize that some teenagers who are not suited for college straight out of high school may turn into strong students even a year or so later. But if your grandson can provide tangible evidence that he can handle a college workload, it will improve his acceptance odds at whatever college he hopes to attend and will also boost his confidence and give him a running start when he returns to school full time.

(posted 5/13/2014)