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Articles / Applying to College / Pros and Cons of Disclosing Skipped Grade

June 20, 2007

Pros and Cons of Disclosing Skipped Grade

Question: My child skipped a grade early on and is now in a highly competitive high school program doing extremely well academically and socially. In fact, his high school doesn't know he skipped. We didn't tell them because of the stereotypical reaction many people have.

Should he disclose this info when he applies for college since he will be turning 17 just when applications are due? Should a teacher or guidance counselor mention it? Would colleges even notice that he's young for grade?

Coming clean about your son's long-ago skipped grade probably will neither hurt nor help but--if anything--it will be the latter.

Will colleges even notice if it's not mentioned? Back in the days that I reviewed college applications, my boss trained her staff to be "detectives." So, yes, I did periodically note that some candidates were not born in the same year as the majority of others. Often this discrepancy was explained; sometimes it wasn't. When a student was younger than most of his classmates, I would look carefully at the transcript to see if the student had missed a year of high school or was trying to enroll in college a year early. If this wasn't the case, then I assumed that the student had started school very young or skipped a grade early on, and I didn't give it any thought beyond that. In other words, no biggie either way.

But occasionally, a teacher or counselor (or sometimes the applicant--usually in an interview) would mention an acceleration years back. I think that it worked at least a tiny bit in the applicant's favor to see a younger student who had jumped ahead and still done well.

When a student has skipped a year of high school or hopes to graduate early, admission officials are apt to scrutinize the application very carefully to make sure that the candidate is sufficiently mature and that the reasons for the hurried high school career seem sensible. But in the case of a student who skipped a grade well before, there shouldn't be any extra scrutiny.

So, bottom line: Not every admission official will notice your son's age, and those who do probably won't care one way or another since his transcript will indicate that he spent four years in high school. However, I see no down side at all to explaining his background to admission committees.

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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