Preparing for College

Will 6th Grade Detention Affect College Admission?

Question:I am in 6th grade and am a straight "A" student. I do not get in any trouble and my classmates think I am the nicest kid in the grade. However, I had one bad day and a kid stole my lunch and I got carried away and threw it at him. I got a referral because it hit his face. It was a total accident. I ended up going to the dean's office and receiving a week of lunch detention and one after school detention. Will colleges look at this?

Relax ... the news is all good. For starters, college applications ask only about discipline violations at the high school level. Secondly, unless you were actually suspended, expelled, or arrested by the police, then colleges don't care about your other misdeeds. In other words, although getting detention is certainly something you want to avoid, college admission officials aren't interested in knowing about it ... even when you're in high school.

It sounds as if you're ordinarily a great student and school community member, which is probably why you're so worried about this atypical situation. But you can stop worrying now. However, I have a son who is in middle school, too. (He'll finish 7th grade next week.) Just yesterday we were talking about one of his friends who got in a little hot water at school for messing with another student's computer account. The boy was suspended for one day. I explained to my son that this suspension won't dog his friend through high school and won't affect his college applications. BUT ... I also pointed out that, whenever a student gets in any sort of trouble, it's important to bend over backwards to avoid further incidents. Once you get a reputation as a trouble-maker, teachers and administrators may be quicker to blame--and punish--you whenever there's some incident in which you're only slightly involved. When it's time to apply for college, your teachers and school counselor will be writing letters of recommendation for you, so you want them to think of you as a model citizen.

From what you've told me, it sounds as if your teachers and administrators must realize that you're not a habitual offender. In fact, I bet that some of them secretly applauded you for tossing that lunch (!) But the next time a classmate gets you angry, try to manage it a bit better ... or at least aim for the perpetrator's feet. ;)