Preparing for College

Impact of 8th Grade Infraction for Internet Game on Permanent Record?

Question: My son is in 8th grade, and he got a long-term suspension for playing FMK game (F*ck, Marry, K*ll), a rather popular game on the Internet. He passed notes with his friends listing many people they know at school. He tossed the paper into the recycling bin, but the janitor found it and reported it to the principal. We explained that this is a mindless game that's played by many people, but the principal wouldn't change his mind about the blight on my son's record being permanent until he graduates from high school. How seriously will this be viewed when he applies to college?

I assure you that his episode will have no effect whatsoever on your son's college-admission decisions. His applications will ask about any suspensions he received during high school, but, fortunately, he's not there yet. And, even if he were, this sort of thing can be explained to colleges and would probably be regarded as merely a youthful rite of passage, assuming he's kept his nose clean since.

Nonetheless, you should read your son this recent "Ask the Dean" response that I sent to a sixth-grader who, like your son, was involved in one aberrant indiscretion at her middle school. It will help to remind your son that, although the infraction you describe will have no impact on his college plans, he does want to be careful to avoid being labeled a trouble-maker, which might happen should he be even peripherally involved in additional incidents.

As the mother of a 7th grader, I know that a lot of these kids' games are "mindless" indeed, just as you've dubbed the one your son was playing. However, he should also be warned that any undertaking that includes the word "kill" can carry more gravity than is intended, especially in the current climate where bullying is under a microscope at many schools.

So, again, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to this recent disciplinary action, but do caution your son that he now needs to be especially wary of future trouble.