Preparing for College

Will 9th-Grade Suspension Due to Naked Photo Impact College Applications?

Question: My 9th-grade son got a one-day suspension for buying a naked picture and selling it to another in school. I know this is a very misguided behavior. Does this fall under "maybe overlooked'" issues or "quite serious" for college applications?

Chances are, the worst thing that will come out of this episode is that your son will be mortified for life that school officials and, especially, his parents found out about his little entrepreneurial venture.

But what he needs to do now (or YOU should do) is to ask school officials if it will be reported to colleges when he applies in a few years and, if so, what will be said. You want to be sure that the version of the story that your son discloses on his applications is congruent with the school report. (More on this in a minute.)

I am assuming that the picture your son bought and sold was not a naked photo of another student or of a young child. Both of these behaviors could have more serious ramifications. But if it was a photo of a celebrity or of some seemingly anonymous but consenting adult, then your son's misdeed falls squarely under the "not to worry" rubric. (If it was the photo of a school mate, write me back, because that’s a different story.)

You should also interrogate your son to try to find out if this was a one-time deal and he was stupid (or just unlucky) to get caught or if, instead, he's actually been running a porno business out of his backpack. Presumably, if the latter is true, he has now been scared into retirement.

When your son is ready to apply to college, his applications will ask if he was ever found responsible for any disciplinary violation from 9th grade on. Thus, your son will have to answer yes and to briefly explain the incident and what he learned from it.

I suspect that your son’s disciplinary violation will make a few admission folks snicker but—beyond that—he has nothing to fear. But, again, if the photo violated the privacy of a classmate (or teacher!) or if it involved a minor child, then it is no laughing matter.

So, again, if this is the case, contact me for more suggestions.

Otherwise, chalk it up to youthful foibles, let your son know that he should not be traumatized for life, and don’t bring it up again until application time.

Best wishes for a calmer summer!

(posted 6/18/2012)