Do School Suspensions Really Crush College Admission Chances?

school suspension impacts college admission

Last Updated on December 10, 2021 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

Have you ever wondered whether school suspensions actually matter? Do they truly impact a student’s chances to be admitted to a college or university? Will a student be accepted regardless of an elementary or middle school suspension in their past? Yes they do. Yes they do. Maybe….

high school suspensions impact college admission
School suspensions can damage a student’s grades and college admission prospects

School Suspensions Are Bad

I have seen parents post questions like “Is school suspension really bad?” or “Why is school suspension bad?”

School suspensions are bad. They are a permanent black mark in a student’s records if received in elementary, middle or high school.

Student discipline reflects on the character and conduct of the suspended student. They communicate that the student either ignored the rules or did not care about the rules. Suspensions show poor judgment by the student being suspended.

Suspensions are not just a few days off. They are to punish the child.

They can also impact a student’s grades, as it is up to teachers whether the suspended student will even be allowed to complete work missed while suspended or not. If not, school suspension can cause a domino effect, lowering the student’s grades, which may mean lowering their chances to get into college.

School Suspensions Stay In Student Education Records

Suspensions in elementary, middle, or high school STAY in the student’s records and can haunt them. That fight in sixth grade- it is still on the student’s records in twelfth grade, unless the school agrees to take it out (expungement).

Suspensions may have been served long ago, but the record of the school suspension does not disappear.

Impact of Suspension Lurking in School Records?

Suspensions do impact students even before college. For example, staff in a school may see a suspension in the student’s records and pre-judge them. A vice principal may see a past suspension for sexual harassment and refuse to try alternative punishments for a new suspendable offense. A student may be labelled a troublemaker and written up for things others may not be.

A college may also see a suspension for hate violence or just profanity and refuse the student admission.

smoking student suspended impacted college
Stupid things can cause school suspensions and later impact university admission

Colleges Do Factor Suspensions in When Reviewing Student Admission

Suspensions matter when applying for college, but the impact will vary depending on the alleged “quality” of the college and/or how easy the college is to get into.

For example, the University of California (UC) system asks on their application about suspensions or expulsions. School suspensions and expulsions are factors or they would not be asked about by colleges.

The private college application asks about any discipline infractions, even detentions, last time I checked. Student discipline matters.

A community college or trade school may or may not care about past discipline. The impact of a school suspension depends on the university or college and their admission standards.

One thing is certain- if you had two students fighting for one college admission slot, and the students were clones of each other in every way but one: school suspension, the one with the suspension would not get in to the university.

Will a Student NOT Be Admitted Due to One Suspension?

It is possible a suspension can cause college rejection, but the best answer is “it depends.”

Only the college admission people know the true answer to that!

Suspension and expulsion lawyer Michelle Ball defends and helps students across California. As a student rights attorney in Sacramento Michelle Ball supports students around the state in places such as Fort Bragg, Santa Rosa, Solvang, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Roseville, Auburn, Tahoe, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Redwood City, and many other locations.