Some high-school students get school-issued detentions for unacceptable behavior. Detentions aren't the same as suspensions, and are usually served before or after school. Students get detentions for tardiness or disruptive behavior and are usually allowed to turn in all academic assignments. Administrators might call parents, depending on the school's policies and the seriousness of the offense. Most college admissions committees don't request high-school records, other than transcripts and standardized test scores.
Most college admissions committees evaluate academic transcripts and SAT or ACT scores, and don't need students' high-school files. They aren't concerned about minor high-school offenses such as tardies or immature classroom behavior. Some college applications ask questions about illegal activity, such as whether the student has been arrested, but those issues are more serious and extend beyond the bounds of high-school detentions. College students are treated as adults, so minor, infrequent detentions carry little weight.
Option to Contest
Students and parents can contest items that are placed in high-school records if they feel the content is unjust, according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Schools have an appeal process, so students and parents can request to have specific documents, such as detentions, removed. Education boards and administrators conduct official hearings and evaluate requests to determine the significance of the offenses and whether detentions were been unfairly issued. They might interview teachers to ensure detentions weren't issued out of spite or anger. According to FERPA, high schools must have written permission from parents or eligible students who are at least 18 to release information from student education records.
A Fresh Start
Other than documents included in the application process, a student's college records start fresh. Most universities consider college a new beginning, and only keep records moving forward. For example, if a student has a history of getting detentions for tardiness in high school, excessive tardiness in college can lead to bad grades and spoken or unspoken disapproval from professors. Instructors don't need high-school records to prove a point or hold students accountable for their behavior. College instructors put the full weight of responsibility on students' shoulders and don't have time to evaluate past high school problems.
Students often need high-school teachers to complete reference forms as part of the college application process. Teachers who are aware of disciplinary problems, such as detentions, might mention them on reference forms or reference letters. For example, Syracuse University in New York requires high school teachers to complete a questionnaire as part of the application process. Teachers must rank students on their work habits, character and personal qualities, in addition to their academic strengths.
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