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Articles / Applying to College / Will 6th Grade Detention Affect College Admission?

June 11, 2010

Will 6th Grade Detention Affect College Admission?

Question:I am in 6th grade and am a straight "A" student. I do not get in any trouble and my classmates think I am the nicest kid in the grade. However, I had one bad day and a kid stole my lunch and I got carried away and threw it at him. I got a referral because it hit his face. It was a total accident. I ended up going to the dean's office and receiving a week of lunch detention and one after school detention. Will colleges look at this?

Relax ... the news is all good. For starters, college applications ask only about discipline violations at the high school level. Secondly, unless you were actually suspended, expelled, or arrested by the police, then colleges don't care about your other misdeeds. In other words, although getting detention is certainly something you want to avoid, college admission officials aren't interested in knowing about it ... even when you're in high school.


It sounds as if you're ordinarily a great student and school community member, which is probably why you're so worried about this atypical situation. But you can stop worrying now. However, I have a son who is in middle school, too. (He'll finish 7th grade next week.) Just yesterday we were talking about one of his friends who got in a little hot water at school for messing with another student's computer account. The boy was suspended for one day. I explained to my son that this suspension won't dog his friend through high school and won't affect his college applications. BUT ... I also pointed out that, whenever a student gets in any sort of trouble, it's important to bend over backwards to avoid further incidents. Once you get a reputation as a trouble-maker, teachers and administrators may be quicker to blame--and punish--you whenever there's some incident in which you're only slightly involved. When it's time to apply for college, your teachers and school counselor will be writing letters of recommendation for you, so you want them to think of you as a model citizen.

From what you've told me, it sounds as if your teachers and administrators must realize that you're not a habitual offender. In fact, I bet that some of them secretly applauded you for tossing that lunch (!) But the next time a classmate gets you angry, try to manage it a bit better ... or at least aim for the perpetrator's feet. ;)

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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