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Expelled from College...Next Steps?

jlapp76jlapp76 Posts: 2Registered User New Member
edited December 2010 in College Admissions
Hi,

I was self-educated at home throughout my entire K-12 years and rose from virtually nothing to attend Bentley University, a fairly prestigious business school. I was a National Merit Scholar and a President's Scholar. Despite never having been in a classroom environment before, I adapted quickly to the new environment and excelled, earning a 4.0 GPA in every single course my freshman year.

In the fall 2008 semester (my first semester at Bentley), I needed money to pay my bills and unfortunately made an unwise decision to generate this income by writing papers for other students and charging fees. Throughout November and December of that year, I wrote 8 papers and sold them to other students. Though I had never taken the courses that the papers were for, the papers were given good grades. Some papers were short and immaterial, while others represented the cumulative projects for their respective courses.

The paper writing business ended with the school semester and I did not resume my unethical activities once the spring semester began. My actions of the past fall semester were not the least bit on my mind through the beginning months of the year. However, in April, a full 5 months after I stopped writing papers, I received an unexpected e-mail informing me that I had been caught and must report immediately to the Deans. Despite a very hard fought case, the judicial process was not favorable to me and the board expelled me permanently, a decision upheld by the Provost on appeal. The board, however, did not expel any of my clients. Two were suspended for a semester, while the others were given meager sentences of community service.

I was allowed to keep all credits I earned at Bentley, but my official transcript shows "Academic Dismissal." I enrolled in a local community college this fall and am taking general education courses to build credits. I applied to two other schools as a transfer student in the spring but was denied admission (they both were fairly elite colleges, to be clear). I will continue community college in the spring, but need a four year university to attend after that.

It seems to me that this one mistake negates all my other accomplishments and bars me from the world of higher education permanently. I need to continue my education; I can't quit college. And I need a strategy to move forward so that I can do that. I am asking in this post for advice on what I should do to overcome this blemish on my record and proceed as quickly as possible. Specific questions that I need answered to are below. Any further advice is much appreciated.

1. What if I completely omitted my year at Bentley in future college applications and applied as if I was a freshman in Community College?
2. Is it possible to do the above without lying on the "Disciplinary History" section of most college applications, including the Common App?
3. What can I do to convince admissions that this was mistake is not indicative of my overall character?

To be clear, I never cheated personally. All of my perfect grades were earned with honor, and I maintaining my 4.0 GPA in Community College. I also have not been inactive outside the classroom. This past summer, I built from scratch and ran my own painting business, generated $100,000 in revenue and was responsible for the entire management of the company. I am continuing growing my business and expect to hire on new managers and grow the company to $600,000 in business the next summer. I was also a prominent member of my college's political organizations.

I have all the qualities of an ideal candidate, but this one looming obstacle is holding me back. Thank you for your help.
Post edited by jlapp76 on
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Replies to: Expelled from College...Next Steps?

  • lynxinsiderlynxinsider Posts: 1,279Registered User Senior Member
    I'm going to send you a PM with my thoughts and advice on the matter. I do want to say the following for the benefit of other students who will wander through:

    1 would be a lie. 2=no. 3 I'll talk about in the PM.
    You did cheat personally, and it was a bad choice, not a mistake.

    Good luck on finding the right place!
  • Gordon_GekkoGordon_Gekko Posts: 352Registered User Member
    Why even bother with college if you're already doing so well?
  • vincehvinceh Posts: 2,291Registered User Senior Member
    To be clear, you did cheat. The argument that you didn't cheat evokes the image of a drug dealer saying that they don't actually use the drug they merely sell it to other people; what they do with it is their own business. You set up a small business whereby you profited by deceiving end users, i.e., professors, and arguably, undermining the educational process. The students were punished for possession; you were punished for dealing.

    The problem is this "mistake" brings all of your accomplishments into question. Your decision has planted a seed of doubt in any future admissions committee's mind. Why should we or they believe that this is the first time you've made an ethical error? Why should we believe you won't do it again? Complicating the matter, your first idea on how to handle the issue is to omit that the event ever happened, or as lynxinsider accurately put it, to lie. Your second question continues this theme of selective amnesia. Both are horrendous strategies and remind me of advice my father gave me: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!

    To my mind, you have three options:

    1. Continue with community college for two years while growing your business. After a couple of years you may be able to convince a school that this incident was simply a youthful transgression.

    2. Continue growing your business and self-educate. You seem fairly bright and motivated even if your ethics are a bit slippery.

    3. Embrace your mistake and fall on your sword in applications and interviews. Explain to anyone who'll listen that your entrepreneurial spirit got the better of you. As a self-imposed "sentence" volunteer in an inner-city environment teaching young people English and Math. Take classes in ethics. In short, admit and accept responsibility for what you did and then go out and do whatever it takes to show people that you're trying to atone for your actions.

    I'm doubtful that number 3 will sway any elite schools, but that strategy should help with other colleges.
  • ShrinkrapShrinkrap Posts: 11,519Registered User Senior Member
    What is "self-educated at home". Is that "home-schooled" by a grown up, or you taught your self?
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Posts: 17,855Super Moderator Senior Member
    Not the best place to try this - a school with a center for business ethics. I agree with the other posters: you can't avoid the history by applying as a freshman, it is a lie if you don't disclose it on the disciplinary history section. You're best off finishing CC first and growing your business. Hopefully through those and an interview you can show how much maturity you have gained.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Posts: 24,853Registered User Senior Member
    I'm guessing that you may not have been expelled if you had admitted that you had demonstrated extremely bad judgment and a lack of ethics by cheating for students. If what you basically said was that you were blameless or almost blameless, then that may have been why you were expelled.

    I don't think that you will be able to get into elite universities as a transfer student. You may, however, be able to get into second tier ones if you make it very clear that you realize the complete and inexcusable wrongness of your past actions and you are now doing your best to be ethical.

    You are likely to be caught if you lie and apply as a freshman. If you manage to be admitted, but your lie is caught after you get your college degree, your degree could be rescinded.

    And you don't have all of the qualities of an ideal candidate. Colleges' ideal candidates have a strong sense of ethics. Particularly in the aftermath of the Madoff scandal, business schools and departments in particular care about ethics.
  • RRoseRRedRRoseRRed Posts: 21Registered User New Member
    I'm self-educated too, and it was interesting reading that you had so much initial success in college. (I just applied for college next fall.)

    I recommend that you simply apply to more places. It's not necessary to get your bachelors at a tippy top ivy league school. Since you're at a community college right now, settling for less shouldn't be so much of a struggle. And you can always go into college and then transfer to another one after you prove yourself for a year or two.

    Good luck.
  • NeonzeusNeonzeus Posts: 1,229Registered User Senior Member
    I was troubled by the fact that you seem to have very mixed feelings about your ethical lapse. While admitting you made a mistake, the punishment that others received is irrelevant. The fact that you stopped doing it is irrelevant. The facts that you were home-schooled or self-taught, and even that you were doing well in your own classes is irrelevant. The fact that you didn't take the classes for which you wrote papers for other students is irrelevant. When and how you were caught is irrelevant.

    The only relevant facts that you listed are that (1) you violated the rules of your school, as well as showing a lack of personal academic integrity, and (2) then tried to fight your way out of it. I also think its relevant that you are now questioning whether you might be able to hide this from future schools, which would mean failing to tell the truth about prior disciplinary action and academic courses on future applications. Do you see a really, really bad pattern here?

    If you don't tell the truth, you risk a second academic dismissal. While you may find a school that is willing to give you a second chance, I doubt that any school will give you a third chance.

    I suggest that you consider smaller colleges, and perhaps schools with religious affiliations who may be willing to work with you. You should meet with the admissions offices whenever possible, and let them see that you've learned important lessons and have matured. If you are truly apologetic and can show that you see what you did wrong, I believe you will be given the opportunity to continue your education beyond the CC. Your mistake may, however, need to be explained again and again in the future depending on your career goals and whether licensing boards may review your academic and disciplinary background. Mistakes have consequences. It doesn't mean that you can't succeed in life because of one mistake, but it will make your path in life a little bumpier than if this had not happened.
  • ghostbusterghostbuster Posts: 1,590- Senior Member
    Agree with Northstarmom. Being completely and genuinely contrite and sorry for your 'sins' means a lot in the honor code judicial system. It seems you argued on the wrong side of the fence. In business, you will be faced with ethical decisions every day and the cheaters can get into a lot of trouble and bring the company down with them.

    Own up to your past. Be honest, forthright and express regret, lesson learned and it won't happen again. Its unfortunate the clients were not expelled. That is very unfair. But that is not your business. Focus on your situation, your remedies and humbly ask the new schools you apply to, to admit you and give you a second chance.

    I agree that second tier or third tier schools are your best bet. TELL THEM IN ADVANCE WHAT HAPPENED. Don't let your transcript from Bentley be the first time they find out what happened. In fact, I would call these schools before you applied and ask for an interview to discuss your situation and see if they will be receptive right up front. If so, then submit your application (have it ready and your application fee ready to hand to them personally).

    DO NOT EVER LIE. DECEPTION IS A VERY BAD THING.
  • HuntHunt Posts: 21,577Registered User Senior Member
    If you have to explain it to anybody, don't call it a "mistake." It wasn't a mistake--you knew it was against the rules, and you choose to do it. You weren't sleepwalking. If I were an employer, I would react very negatively to anybody who described something like this as a mistake. "Bad decision" is better, although still not fully descriptive.
  • MomofWildChildMomofWildChild Posts: 16,741Registered User Senior Member
    I would think a large state university might admit you if you gave a proper explanation and took responsibility for your actions. Some time has passed, and there are places that believe in second chances.

    For those posters who are so aghast at this- it happens quite frequently and there is quite a business in writing papers and even taking tests for others. It isn't OK, but it's out there, just as the use of prescription medicines to enhance academic performance is out there......
  • NJ PaladinNJ Paladin Posts: 117Registered User Junior Member
    Note that this thread is three months old and the OP has not posted again.
  • potatoes345potatoes345 Posts: 265Registered User Junior Member
    "This past summer, I built from scratch and ran my own painting business, generated $100,000 in revenue and was responsible for the entire management of the company. I am continuing growing my business and expect to hire on new managers and grow the company to $600,000 in business the next summer. I was also a prominent member of my college's political organizations. "

    If you actually are making this kind of cash there's no reason to go to college.
  • sam9008sam9008 Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    One thing you CAN do is just not transfer your credits from that school and just not bring it up, especially since it was only a month's worth. I'm pretty sure that's not illegal...
  • R3d3mpti0nR3d3mpti0n Posts: 693Registered User Member
    ^Not unless the colleges he applies to ask for Bentley's transcript. If he's applying as a transfer student, then his new schools will require the transcript. I agree with some of the previous posters. Make sure your new schools learn of this before you apply. Portray to them that you've learned a very valuable lesson and that you are an honest person but made a very bad decision.
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