Preparing for College

Is the Discipline Bar Set Too High for Boarders?

Question: My son was just asked to leave his boarding school, only a few weeks before graduation, because a faculty member found him (and two other seniors) smoking marijuana in his dorm room. The other seniors were dismissed as well. The school plans to notify the college my son expects to attend and told us that the college may rescind the acceptance. My son, who has always been a strong student and leader--until now--is going to ask for a special in-person interview to explain the circumstances to the college, with the hope that his acceptance will not be revoked. My husband and I are very disappointed by our son's behavior, and he will face recriminations at home as well. Yet it strikes me that boarding school students are at an unfair disadvantage. When students at day schools (public or private) face similar infractions, it rarely results in dismissal because usually these things take place off the school grounds so the school isn't involved at all. Is it reasonable to impose such harsh punishments only on boarders?

Your story is a familiar one. In fact, this spring, an almost epidemic number of similar queries have landed in the Dean's in-box. While the stories vary somewhat, the prevailing theme is that a boarding school student was caught using or harboring drugs or alcohol and was expelled from the school, just weeks shy of graduation. The other prevailing theme has been along the lines of, "Up until now, Junior has been a class leader, model citizen, etc. This is a first offense, but the school has a zero-tolerance policy."

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