Rewind, and Erase?
June 8, 2021 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to disregard a college year in new college applications?

My son's first year of college was okay (2.7 GPA). He went to a dIfferent school his second year and it all went south (0.4 GPA). He decided, rightfully so, to take a break and deal with other things. He has now, 10 years later, decided to go back.

My question is can he just ignore the bad year on his new applications? They will not be in the same state systems. I was able to ignore a year in my accedemic journey (like father, like son) but that was many years ago, well before computer networks ruled the earth.

Thanks in advance for any experience or insight.
posted by rtimmel to Education (16 answers total)
 
Best answer: Most applications will ask you to list *every* college course you've taken. If you lie and get caught... it's not great, although exactly what the consequences would be are going to vary wildly by school (a school that thinks your son is amazing and/or desperately needs your son's tuition money may be willing to look the other way; at some schools he would be kicked to the curb).

Also it was 10 years ago. Many admissions committees would be willing to ignore it anyway, or at least view it with the grain of salt it deserves, so it's probably not worth spending a big lie on.

If I were advising your son I would tell him to take a couple of college-level courses as a non-degree student at a community college or state college (stuff that interests him and/or stuff that has a good chance of transferring) to demonstrate that he has his academic shit together now (both to potential schools where he might get a degree, and to himself to make sure this is really what he wants to be doing right now).
posted by mskyle at 8:39 AM on June 8 [21 favorites]


I would list and be to worried about. It is possible would be they transfer some credits which would save some money.
posted by tman99 at 8:54 AM on June 8


Definitely list. If they find that he omitted it in the application they will very likely reject it outright. At least if he includes it there’s a chance that it will go fine.

Whether or not a school considers something like this varies widely. I couldn’t get into a post-bac program in a state school because of a couple of grades I received over 20 years ago but the private college I applied to didn’t care (as they shouldn’t).
posted by corey flood at 9:00 AM on June 8


Best answer: He needs to list everything lest this kind of thing happens.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:09 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Agree with other posters that hiding the last year is not a good idea* for college admissions (and it probably doesn't matter very much). The good news is that he can leave the other universities off his resume if he wants, and just provide the GPA earned at his degree granting institution.

*I don't know if the system can be used in such a way, but if your son ever received federal financial aid, the department of ed would have a record of that.

As an aside, a possible exception may be certain schools abroad. If I recall correctly, some tertiary education systems don't have a mechanism for accepting transfer students, so allegedly in these systems one is supposed to apply like an incoming first year student. Whether or not schools in these education system would ask for all post secondary transcripts, I don't know.
posted by oceano at 9:11 AM on June 8


List it. It will also explain the 10 year gap. Now he matured, etc.
posted by AugustWest at 9:32 AM on June 8


Response by poster: Thanks. His biggest concern is that he will be forced to take the failed courses again and average the grades. And a 3.5 averaged with a 0.0 is a 1.75, a grade that has to be overcome.
posted by rtimmel at 9:44 AM on June 8


If you're applying to large state schools, it's fairly unlikely they'll have the resources to check-up on every student's application. That's not to say it isn't a risk, and I agree that it's not really a risk worth taking - mskyle is correct that the best way to address his record is to take a few community college classes, get A's in them, and write a good application essay that makes clear what's changed between then and now.

Just seeing your update- it is not dishonest to list an institutional GPA on a CV/resume.
posted by coffeecat at 9:47 AM on June 8


Best answer: Note that there's a difference between disclosing past academic work and transferring in those records in an attempt to get credit for them at the new institution ("transfer credit").

His biggest concern is that he will be forced to take the failed courses again and average the grades. And a 3.5 averaged with a 0.0 is a 1.75, a grade that has to be overcome.

Unless he plans on transferring in his past coursework - which would be absolutely illogical and foolish given his performance - this is a nonissue. It is also likely not permitted given the length of time since he was last in school.

He will have to take the courses this system requires for graduation, and will be measured by his performance during that coursework.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:59 AM on June 8 [12 favorites]


You’d really want to suggest he call the admissions office, but I don’t think his earlier grades get rolled into the GPA calculation at New U. I think the GPA will be for New U grades only.

If he’s super worried about having something bad stick to him, you could call. You don’t have to give your son’s name to ask this question.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:04 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


He should disclose, and also provide a short explanation. The point of the explanation isn't so much a mea culpa, it's to explain that the issues that caused the poor performance 10 years ago are now resolved, and the poor performance will not reoccur.

Anything else that provides evidence that he's now stable and able to take on responsibilities is also something he should highlight. For example, if he has been successful in his career, as a member of the community, in other coursework or any other rigorous intellectual activity (like getting articles published, etc)... those are all things that the new school will want to know.

The new school isn't going to want to punish him for his poor performance 10 years ago, but they are going to want reassurance that he can handle school now and will successfully graduate this time around.

If he doesn't disclose, that is a pretty serious offense, and could get his acceptance revoked.

If I were advising your son I would tell him to take a couple of college-level courses as a non-degree student at a community college or state college (stuff that interests him and/or stuff that has a good chance of transferring) to demonstrate that he has his academic shit together now (both to potential schools where he might get a degree, and to himself to make sure this is really what he wants to be doing right now).

Agree completely.

His biggest concern is that he will be forced to take the failed courses again and average the grades. And a 3.5 averaged with a 0.0 is a 1.75, a grade that has to be overcome.

I doubt the new school would average a grade he earns there with a grade he earned at another school. If he were returning to the old school, maybe the grades would be averaged (even then, the chance is slight considering how old these previous grades are). But schools don't average students' grades with courses taken elsewhere.

If the failed classes are required, he will have to retake them, though. He can't get credit for a failed class.
posted by nowadays at 10:33 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Best answer: It's common for people to have a bad go the first time they try. The drop out rate is around 50% for most colleges and up to 60% at the community level. The GPA's will not be mixed and most schools admissions process (I work at uni, and co-workers are involved in that process) will not see that ancient history as a major or even a minor problem. I would include it the form* but otherwise not even bother mentioning it - keep the application letter focused on "getting education y for reason x with plan z".

Seriously - short and professional and to the point. The best advice is be frank about the reasons- if it is local and cheap say that nicely, like This specific school is affordable and classes will fit into my schedule or your idiot friend did it? I am familiar with the school culture and feel it's a good fit. Just listing one specific class that you are interested in and how it's relevant to you will demonstrate that you are actually paying attention. The aim is to convey that you have done your due diligence and are prepared to compete your course of study.

*it's on the form because of how schools count incoming students - the lot coming from highschool, those that just took a break (so called adult learners ha) and those that tried before and are returning to college. Getting folks to complete a degree they started is a big deal so the government keep track of it.
posted by zenon at 10:52 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Nthing that transferring credit into a new school is a completely separate issue from disclosure, and that usually the problem is getting the new school to accept the credit transfer at all in the first place. (Speaking from experience here, had to speak with a counselor to get the credit for courses I took from a state college when transferring to a different college and ended up losing about a term of progress when I did.) They almost certainly won't transfer anything without being asked to.
posted by Aleyn at 11:44 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I recently applied to go back to school after never attending university but taking a few random classes here and there (that I didn't actually know were for credit!).

The admissions office was very very specific: We need to know every class you took ever.

I ended up paying $50ish at studentclearinghouse.org to get a full report of anything I'd ever taken - and it was exactly the same report admissions would get when they looked me up.

So don't lie/omit. They're going to find out anyhow.
posted by haplesschild at 12:43 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I want to comment on this: Unless he plans on transferring in his past coursework - which would be absolutely illogical and foolish given his performance - this is a nonissue. It is also likely not permitted given the length of time since he was last in school.

I left college in 1984. I returned to college in 2012 and finished in 2016. Every course I had taken previously was counted, judged, and assigned credit to. The fact that 28 years had passed was a non-issue. The only courses that didn't count were the ones I failed. I was never asked or given a choice about which courses I wanted to transfer, every course was transferred.

I will also say that while I kept a 4.0 GPA during my return to school, my GPA from my previous attempt at school was averaged in to that GPA, which kept me from graduating with honors.

In your case, I would make certain about credits transferring and GPA averaging by talking directly to the admissions office to get the actual details.
posted by ralan at 2:07 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Before applying, your son might also want to check out a university's registrar site for its "transfer credit policy." (ex1 ex2)
posted by oceano at 9:48 PM on June 8


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