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Articles / Admissions / Must I Report a Middle-School Suspension on College Applications?

May 28, 2020

Must I Report a Middle-School Suspension on College Applications?

Question: I was suspended in middle school for involvement in a fight. Will I need to put this on my college applications, and--if so--how will it affect admission decisions?

Typically, college applications focus on your high school career only, so you’re off the hook for any middle school misdeeds. If, however, you encounter a query about past suspensions, and the wording seems to suggest otherwise (or if you simply feel you’ll have a clearer conscience by doing so), you can ’fess up to your erstwhile infraction with no fear of admission-decision repercussions.

Should you feel that an explanation is in order, it would make sense to be somewhat specific about what happened (assuming that no lives were lost or gunfire was exchanged) so that admission officials won’t think the incident was worse than it really was. That will also give you a chance to note that you learned your lesson before the ink was dry on your junior-high diploma and that your record has been clean ever since.

Again, unless the circumstances that led to your suspension were more serious than you say here, it will not be noted on your permanent record and it will not in any way affect your college plans.

Written by

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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