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Articles / Applying to College / Long-Term Harm of 8th-Grade Detention?

Long-Term Harm of 8th-Grade Detention?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | April 4, 2015

Question: I’m in 8th grade and this is my first after school detention. I am a straight A student and I do not get into fights, but I had one bad day and I recieved a detention. I am very scared and nervous that it will be a bad mark on my record and that colleges will have bad feelings about me,especially as I am in 8th grade, which I heard is when colleges look I am in the state of Georgia, so I am worried. Will colleges deny my acceptance because of a detention?

Relax and take a deep breath!  You do not have to report any 8th-grade disciplinary action on your college applications. The applications ask only about infractions that took place from 9th through 12th grades. So you are off the hook. In addition, a one-time detention—in ANY grade—is rarely problematic. College admission officials are more concerned with suspensions and expulsions. And, even then, most admission officials are willing to look carefully at WHY the applicant was suspended. A student who got into a fist fight while defending a classmate against bullies will certainly be viewed differently than a student who cheated on an exam, although both episodes might lead to the same punishment.However, now that you’ve been disciplined in school and you know how scary it feels, do bend over backwards to keep this from happening again.  You don’t want to get a reputation for being a trouble-maker … especially if you really aren’t. Once teachers and administrators see that certain students have had a couple of detentions, it can become easier to give them more and to blame them for infractions in which they played a minor role … or perhaps none at all.

But for now, rest assured that you are fine, and this recent incident won’t affect your future in any way. Yet one thing you CAN do to help your college-admission chances down the road is to learn to spell “received” correctly by the time you’re a senior. 😉  Admission folks see this error on applications a lot and, although it may not have any major impact on admission outcomes, you certainly want to try to make a good first impression when you apply to college.

Best of luck to you and keep up the fine work on your grades.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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