Do Colleges Look at Detentions?

Facing a detention doesn’t always have to be a life changing, wholesome breakfast club experience. The truth is, it sucks. But nonetheless, does getting a detention in your middle school or in high school, for that matter, makes you a qualified wild criminal? Does it affect your chances of getting into a good college?  Here we will see about Do Colleges Look at Detentions?

In one word, No. Most of the times, detentions don’t even go on your permanent record. Detentions are an extensive part of the high school experience. So, if you’re telling me, you got through high school without ever getting a single detention even for things like, pulling an all-nighter for three consecutive days or skipping classes for a shopping spree with your besties or you name it, then certainly, you weren’t stretching your limits or did not Seized the Day as John Keating would’ve said it, and even John Keating would’ve agreed that neither of it serves any good at all. 

Do Colleges Look at Detentions?

What is your dream college looking for?

Colleges out there, look for well-rounded individuals and not mechanically programmed robots who talk in 0s and 1s.  So, most of the colleges do not mind if you received a couple of detentions while surviving high school. However, getting a detention is certainly something you want to avoid, but it turns out that the college admission officers, for most of the part aren’t really that much concerned about them. Unless you have serious disciplinary violations, it isn’t supposed to be a problem.

What really concerns the admission committee?

Most college admissions committee are far more interested in evaluating your academic transcripts and your SAT and/ or ACT scores. College students are treated as adults, so minor, infrequent detentions carry little or no weight. Avoid getting into anything severe and serious, and you’re good to go!

So, you’re telling me you were suspended, huh?

However, getting suspended or expelled in high school has slightly different repercussions but yet it isn’t a death sentence. The bottom-line and the primary concern for college admission process is your transcript, a complete record of your academic performance throughout your high school. If the disciplinary violation committed, was actually serious (it involved the cops or something like that), it would be a wise move to ask your guidance counsellor whether or not the same would be reported on your transcripts or on the so- called permanent record (which, probably would be) and yes, in that case you need to worry a little. Other than that, you are the ideal student that any college would love to have.

Keys in your application

Make sure to be honest with your guidance counsellor. Also, the key to note here is that, you have to pick the right teacher for writing your references, perhaps, it would be ideal, not to hesitate in selecting your favourite teacher to write your references. 

To worry or not to worry, that is the question

Colleges want to know if you are mature enough and able to succeed in a rigorous academic environment. Disciplinary violations like expulsions, suspensions and academic probation are problematic “red” flags in your college applications. Owning up to your mistakes, providing context and showing the college how you’ve matured from the event is expected from you.

Say it out loud and clear 

The additional information section in Common Application, the essay you’ve been working so hard at, or any other supplemental material in your application could help you show that to the college. While sending applications, it can be tempting to make your college application look polished and perfect, especially when you fear being looked down upon due to a detention record or anything against you. Regardless, of anything that seems unfavourable, be honest in your application and provide real information about yourself. 

What should you really be thinking about?

Make sure to double check everything you put on your application, avoid self-contradictory evidences of your performance. For example, if you have claimed securing the first position in your Annual Coding Tournament, but the school record showcases you; winning the next best, second prize; it just puts you in a bad light or having claimed, spending your summers volunteering for an organization that only exists in your alternative imaginary land of thoughts, makes your application unreliable further down the road and has negative impressions, thus increasing a chance of rejection. 

Being honest in your college applications, cannot be stressed enough upon. 

Relax, it’s not the end of the world

The college application process can be extremely strenuous and stressful, avoid putting any undue pressure on yourself to outshine others. Focus on writing a killer essay that tells the admissions committee about you and crush the interview process. 

And now, what matters the most

Realise that no matter how much significant, anything that seizes you from your authentic self isn’t worth it. Be who you are and take pride in it. Do not give the colleges, a godlike status of superiority or put them on a pedestal, it is you who makes these institutions, what they are known for. 

Your consistent upward performance, involvement in activities and overall behaviour is what makes the most of your application and is so forth, of genuine interest to the college. Make sure you have good explanations to your actions, if posed a question in any regard.


  1. What affects my application the most, a suspension or getting a couple of detentions?

Getting detention in high school is actually not really a big deal and most of the times the colleges aren’t even informed about them but a suspension or expulsion is far more serious and requires a strong explanation to overpower the same; it later comes in question that it might or might not have a negative impression on the admission committee. Many colleges vouch for a holistic admission process, in that case you do not need to worry about a rejection solely on the grounds of your suspension, you’re still seen as a competitive candidate.

  1. Will a 5th grade detention affect my chances of getting into my dream college?

No, it would be safe to say that it won’t affect your application at all.