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

Nov. 15, 2013

Will 6th-Grade Detention Affect College Outcomes?

Question: In 6th grade I called the music teacher a b*tch. It was a HUGE mistake for me to say that and I felt bad but I wanted to make sure if the incident was going to affect me in college. I also got a one day lunch detention that day. Please and thank you.

Don't worry … your bad judgment in 6th grade will have no impact whatsoever on your college process. Applications do ask if you've ever been suspended or expelled BUT …

1. The question only covers grades 9 through 12, so 6th grade infractions don't count at all


2. A lunch detention isn't a suspension or an expulsion anyway and thus wouldn't have to be acknowledged on an application, even if it did occur during high school

So you're off the hook. But, even so, it's wise that you realize your mistake, and it looks like this continues to weigh on your conscience. So let me tell you the story of “Roberta," an old friend of mine. She was awful to her 8th-grade shop teacher. Roberta and a couple of other classmates made his life miserable. Many years later, as an adult, she reflected on how rude she'd been to that teacher and she wrote him a letter of apology. Shortly thereafter, he died and, when Roberta heard the news, she was glad that she'd taken the time to write to him when she did. She still felt bad about the way she'd treated her teacher, but at least she was grateful that she'd tried to make amends.

Although it sounds like your misjudgment was just a one-time deal and not an entire year of teacher-torture, you may want to send your music teacher a card or note to tell her that you regret what you did. I'm sure she'd appreciate this. In fact, if want to go all out–you can even write her a song … or a symphony. 😉

But, meanwhile, you can sleep at night knowing that this one error won't haunt you in the future. You may even have a stronger high school career because you learned an important lesson early.

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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