Preparing for College

Can We Hide Past College Failures from Admissions Committees?

Question: My child graduated in 2007 and signed up for some courses at a junior college. Due to some personal issues with a disabled parent, she never started the classes nor dropped them. The college she's interested in now says she needs to take some courses this year at the JC and so all the previous courses she had signed up for will be included in that average, which will make it next to impossible to get her GPA to where it is required for a transfer student. I know it isn't being honest, but how would the college know if we didn't provide a college transcript to them and attempted to enroll her as a freshman? I'm asking because I really don't want to ruin her chances for ever getting in.

"The Dean" often receives questions like this one from students (or parents) who want to make a clean start after some previous college debacle. My answer is always the same. Don't do it! Tempting as it will be, your daughter should NOT hide her past failures. . She can get in big trouble with this approach. All applications ask if your daughter has ever attended college elsewhere, and if she denies it and is caught--even a few years later, after she's enrolled and done well--she could face expulsion.

Sure, she may NOT get caught. But it's a risk I advise against. (In particular, if she is applying for financial aid, it ups the odds that her past matriculation will come to light.) Instead, she should explain her predicament, citing the family pressures that were on her at the time that she enrolled in classes that she subsequently didn't finish. Admission officials are usually sympathetic to students who want to make a fresh start. But the best way to begin with a truly clean slate is to first own up to the past. Most colleges that admit transfer students will be flexible about the required GPA. In other words, if your daughter's "official" GPA is low due to the false start, then the transfer-school officials will recalculate a second GPA based on the classes she really DID take. If the officials at the college she wishes to attend refuse to do this, she should be able to find other schools that will. And, perhaps, in doing so, she will find a college that is better suited to her overall.

Good luck to your daughter. I hope this works out for her.