College admissions officers will look at disciplinary records IF a high school provides them.
Most college applications, including the Common App, inquire about disciplinary information. By disciplinary records, we mean suspensions – in school and out of school – as well as other infractions that violate school policies where the student has been disciplined.
This topic arises when I work with students who have disciplinary records. If this is the case, the student and parent will of course inquire if colleges will look at this information when making their admissions decisions. After all, it is something that can significantly impact whether a student is admitted to a college. I advise that if college admissions offices are provided with disciplinary information, they will review it, and can weigh it when making an admissions decision.
What to Do If Your Child Has a High School Disciplinary Record
If you have a child who has a record you are concerned about, the first thing you need to do is speak with someone high up in the high school about the privacy policies related to disciplinary records. That can be the head of guidance, the principal of the school, and/or the superintendent of the school district. This is a really, really important thing to do. I say this because many times with the students I have worked with that have a disciplinary record, the high school was not allowed to divulge that information. There is often a privacy clause that says they cannot release this type of information – even to colleges. So, it’s important that you understand the privacy piece of the puzzle before your child goes ahead and responds to any questions related to disciplinary records on college applications.
Once you have this privacy information in hand, you want to make sure that the guidance counselor who is going to be working on your child’s college applications clearly understands the legalities and the rules related to disciplinary records and release of that information.
Disciplinary Records and College Applications Takeaway
Are colleges going to look at disciplinary records? Well, they will only have the opportunity to look at them if they are given to them from the high school. That’s why it’s very important to understand from the high school’s perspective if they are even legally allowed or will divulge that information. This is a complicated issue and it’s something that needs to be looked at on a case by case basis.
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