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Articles / Applying to College / Must Sophomore In-School Suspension Be Reported on College Applications?

Aug. 17, 2010

Must Sophomore In-School Suspension Be Reported on College Applications?

Question: My child had a one time in-school suspension in 10th grade for playing a computer game during study hall. Should we include it on the college application?


Many college applications--including the Common Application--will ask both students and school counselors to indicate if any disciplinary action during high school resulted in suspension. However, an "ISS" (in-school suspension) may not "count" as a "real" suspension at your child's school. Despite the "S" word in its name, it's arguably really more of a "detention" (which colleges typically don't inquire about).

I suggest that you ask the guidance department if they consider this to be a true suspension --one that will be reported to colleges. If not, then your child, too, can let it go. If, however, the school will report it as a suspension, then your child should do the same. He or she should also provide a very brief explanation of the episode. This explanation can be included in the "Additional Information" section that you'll find on most applications or sent to colleges via a separate, short snail-mail note.

Even if this does turn out to be a reportable offense, it should have no impact on admissions odds. Just make sure that your child's explanation contains some sort of "I learned from my mistake" conclusion and does NOT place the blame for bad judgment elsewhere.

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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