Covering Up or Scaring Off?

A cartoon in The New Yorker shows a mother scolding a toddler who has been misbehaving in a sandbox. “Is this the story you want to tell on your college application?” The cartoon was distributed at the start of a session Friday at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The session focused on a very serious issue suggested by the cartoon: To what extent should misbehavior or discipline by students in high school should be reported to the colleges they want to attend?

If everyone agrees that a sandbox scuffle isn’t worth reporting, things get much more complicated after that. An incident of cheating as a high school freshman, never repeated? An assault as a sophomore? Multiple violent incidents? Murder? While these aren’t typical of most applicants, these also aren’t unheard of — and high school counselors are trying to figure out how to respond to colleges’ requests for information.

From the discussion at the NACAC meeting in Seattle, it’s clear that high school counselors are responding in very different ways — with some going out of their way to report incidents and others trying to avoid doing so. Several people noted in the discussion that the exact same disciplinary action might be reported by one high school and kept confidential by another. And at the same time that high schools are weighing what is morally right, they also are facing pressure from parents and threats of lawsuits. Read full story. (Inside Higher Ed)

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