Students who finish their four long years in high school may pursue college, get a degree, socialize with peers and fellow future entrepreneurs, and land a good job. Before they can do that, however, they need to have their college applications accepted: this is where these students encounter their first big hurdle.
As a high school student, you may or may not have done things you’ve done in school that you’re not proud of—things that may end up on the transcripts you need to send to apply to college. You’re thinking about how those records will affect your college application and that if they do, it will make your chances of entering your dream college that much more difficult.
Does a high school referral affect college admissions? If so, how severely does it affect your chances of success? This article is here to help you find out.
What Does High School Referral Mean?
When a student’s behavior has become too much for a teacher or a school faculty member to handle, they report a student for their behavior. A referral includes not just a description of the student’s behavior that the teacher felt the need to report but the steps the teacher or faculty member took to correct said student’s discipline and if they could correct it.
A referral is not a recommendation: recommendations are positive and help a student land a job or apply to college. It is an example of how well a student behaves and how well they would fit into their new college life, courtesy of a teacher or the school administration. A referral is under no circumstances something a student would want to have on their record. It is a mark on one’s education, something a student needs to improve and correct. If a college does hear word of a referral from an oncoming student, then it is something that they would take into consideration.
This revelation only begs the question: can a college see your high school referrals or disciplinary records?
Do Colleges See Your High School Disciplinary Record?
Colleges look for a significant amount of information on students that apply, including their transcripts, recommendations from teachers, and additional information. Some colleges even check a student’s social media accounts. However, high school referrals are typically not included in that information. Whether a disciplinary record makes it to their desk depends on the extent of a student’s disciplinary charge and whether your high school considers your behavior worth noting.
It is a comparatively rare event that your high school disciplinary record will ever make it past your high school years. In most cases, such a record would never reach your transcript or even when you transfer to a new high school. Schools rarely keep these records once a student graduates; for many schools, these records do not even remain when the student moves on to the next grade level. It would have to take extreme negative behavior, up to and including committing a serious felony. In the rare case that a student’s record affects their future, it is only through the most severe felonies and actions that the college will take a careful look at, as it is these actions that the school will take the time to include on your transcripts.
Even then, if a student’s behavior ever gets to the point where the high school feels the need to keep future institutions aware, then a student has more to worry about than the record or a college application. We are talking about the type of behavior that gets a student thrown into remedial classes or expelled from high school altogether. In any case, this issue is only relevant if and only if your high school adds your referrals and disciplinary record to your transcripts.
To sum it up, a college will not see your high school disciplinary record unless you have something that your high school considers as something a college should take note of.
Now we move on to when a college sees and receives a student’s high school referrals. Do they care about this issue, and what exactly do they look for?
Do Colleges Care About High School Referrals?
If a college can see high school referrals, it is taken into consideration. If a student’s behavior is a significant and prominent enough issue to be referred to and noted by the student’s high school on their transcript, it stands to reason that the colleges would care.
Referrals are primarily an issue of behavior. It says to the faculty and staff that the student has a noted history of behavior in school, ranging from interrupting classes to harassing teachers and students. Many colleges consider behavior and how a student acts in a social matter as crucial as their academic performance. You can be an incredibly bright and exceptional student, but colleges will take pause if you are known for making school harder for other students or barely bother to attend school at all.
If colleges care about high school referrals, we need to answer a very important question: How much would they affect a student’s chances of being accepted at a college?
Do Referrals Affect Your College Acceptance?
We’ve stated that student behavior and how students work in a social matter are crucial to whether a college will accept a student’s application. However, we must mention that the subject of social aptitude is far, far more than a handful of incidents in high school.
A nearly uncountable number of students apply for college and thousands of students for any individual college. Any college that takes college application seriously measures a student’s success through several factors. Particularly competitive colleges look at recommendations from peers, how many extracurricular activities a student has engaged in, and so on. Even academic success may precede what mayhem a student has gotten into. A competitive college will sooner reject you for not having a high enough high school GPA or having fewer achievements in school than other applicants before they will ever reject you for tardiness.
Conversely, a less competitive college will care as much about high school referrals as they are more willing to accept students regardless of their background or actions. However, this is not to say they, or competitive colleges, will outright ignore any serious charges or history.
Even if a student’s history has caught up to them, a college may leave the student a chance to explain themselves. The student could offset any damage from their behavior by explaining it to a curious college admission officer. College admissions care a lot about the context and reason behind aspects of a student’s background. They will rarely reject a student on surface-level knowledge alone.
There is only a slight chance that remains where, all other things being equal, a high school referral affects your college admission: that is when your admission is compared to other students. However, the chance that this happens is small as the chance that a college will even see your referral in the first place.
Is a Referral a Big Thing or No?
In the grand scheme, a high school referral is a small aspect of a student’s greater history in school. A student willing to move on to post-secondary education will have enough backing that it doesn’t matter. Alternatively, a driven student will have too much on their plate to worry about how a simple referral will affect their final standing in a college. It is doubtful that a referral or even a series of referrals will affect a student’s future in college.
Even when high school students deal with a referral, teachers and faculty have different ways of addressing a student’s behavior while in their care. These figures are in charge of a student’s future and would not stop at simply giving them a slip of paper that says “bad student.” All in all, a referral is not a big thing for a student.
If you are a student eager to get into college, you have very little to worry about in terms of high school referrals. If the referral is serious enough that it would have a chance of affecting your grade, then you as a student would already have a lot more to deal with before you can even think about applying to college.
Wrapping Things Up: Does a High School Referral Affect College Admissions?
In this article, we have gone over what a high school referral consists of, what it would take for any teacher or faculty to warrant creating one first, and how they would logically affect a student’s college admission. Does a high school referral affect college admission? Unless the student has committed serious felonies and/or has a noted history of such problematic behavior that the high school feels the need to have it upon their record, they would not have to worry about the effects of such a thing on their college admission. Do not let this scenario affect your decision to go to college, young student!
Want to read more college admission guides? We’ve got a range of articles that may interest you including our ultimate guide here.