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Articles / Applying to College / Will Year in Rehab Affect College Admission Chances?

Will Year in Rehab Affect College Admission Chances?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | May 14, 2010

Question: I've been in rehab for a year and decided to repeat junior year in high school to get credits. My transcript will show that I've been in rehab. Will this lower my chances of admissions? In other words, even if I am sober now, will my rehab stay affect my chances?

Your experience in rehab may have an impact on your college outcomes, but not necessarily a negative one. Depending on where you are applying, some colleges (especially the smaller and more conservative ones) could decide that an addict--even one in recovery--will not be a good fit for their community. However, admission officials at other colleges may actually feel that the self-knowledge and determination that you demonstrated by going to rehab will serve you well as a college student and may make you more mature and focused than the typical freshman.


I suggest that when it comes time for you to apply to college, you explain your situation in your applications. You can do this either in your primary college application, in a supplemental essay, in the "Additional Information" section that you'll find on most applications, or in a separate letter. It would also be helpful to include an extra recommendation from an adult in your life (preferably not a relative) who can attest to the fact that you are still sober ... a doctor, employer, therapist, probation officer, clergy member, etc. would all be good choices.

Since you have more than a year before you apply to college, you have ample time to prove that your rehabilitation was effective. And if you are able to do this, you will find that the vast majority of admission officials will applaud your success, and your admission odds won't be jeopardized by your experience.

Good luck to you. You may have a rough road yet ahead, but you seem like you are ready to travel it.

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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