How to Talk About Academic Discipline on Your Application

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OPM 260: How to Talk About Academic Discipline on Your Application

Session 260

Does academic probation automatically get you filtered out of the medical school application system? Let’s find out today as we answer a student’s question regarding this.

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Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[03:09] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I am wondering if I have to answer “yes” or “no” to the following question on AACOMAS:  

“Have you ever been disciplined for academic performance (e.g. academic probation, dismissal, suspension, disqualification, etc.) by any college or school? 

If you answered “Yes” to the previous question, you must provide an explanation. Include 

1) a brief description of the incident and/or arrest, 

2) specific charge made, 

3) related dates, 

4) consequence, and 

5) a reflection on the incident and how the incident has impacted your life.” 

In my situation, I was in a 9-month Biomed master’s program and I was placed on an academic leave absence after the first quarter because I earned poor grades due to stress of home pre-foreclosure, the death of my aunt, and poor study habits. 

Due to my low GPA, I was placed on academic probation when I returned the following fall quarter (I had to take a leave of absence until the program started again in fall due to classes offered only during certain quarters). 

My transcript does not state anything about “academic probation” anywhere. It does state “leave of absence.” Does this mean I can answer “no” to this question?  

I previously applied the last 2 years answering “yes” to this question. I did explain my situation, however, I feel as though I am being filtered out by schools by just answering “yes” to this question.  I do not want to be filtered out by this question, as I was not necessarily “disciplined” and the leave of absence was placed in order to give me time to grieve & take care of family matters.  P.S. – for reference, in my master’s program, anyone with a B- average or lower was placed on academic probation.”

[03:19] Answer What’s Being Asked

'When life happens, and you're in the middle of school, school is obviously impacted.'Click To Tweet

Let’s go back up to the question. Have you ever been disciplined for academic performance? For example, academic probation, dismissal, suspension, disqualification, etc, by any college or school? And this student specifically says they were placed on academic probation when they returned the following quarter.

So the answer then is straightforward, The student is trying to find a loophole here to say, they weren’t disciplined. Therefore, they don’t have to answer, Yes. But that’s not the heart of what this question is asking. Because they’re asking if you’ve ever been placed on academic probation. Have you ever been dismissed because of your academic performance? Have you been suspended? Have you been disqualified? And it sounds like the answer is yes, you have been placed on academic probation. 

As you said, every student who has a B- average or lower is placed on academic probation. And you were placed on academic leave. It could be because that’s their standard, or because obviously, the classes you needed weren’t offered any other time. And you just had to take a break. Nevertheless, that is still an academic dismissal or an academic suspension until those classes are offered again.

All that being said, you just have to answer yes to this question. Otherwise, if you answered No to this question, after having answered Yes twice, you’re going to get flagged in the system.

[07:17] You Could Get Flagged by the System

I talked to a student recently, who had to go through this process for a question about having a misdemeanor. And the student had Yes, at one point, and then changed to No. They actually answered Yes when they didn’t have to. Then AMCAS called them and said they got flagged in their system for having answered Yes to this previously. AMCAS had to call them for this to be cleared. So if you answered No after previously answer answering Yes, then there’s going to be a potential issue there.

'Majority of schools probably do not filter out based on this question. There are a lot of students and there are a lot of reasons students go on academic probation.'Click To Tweet

[08:06] Reasons for Not Getting In

You have a very good reason for going on academic probation. So it all boils down to how you answered the question. Maybe you didn’t answer it well enough and you didn’t reflect on it well enough. You didn’t own it to appease the school so they would understand what happened here and they wouldn’t be seeing this as an issue moving forward. Maybe you didn’t do that.

Or maybe your reason for not getting into medical school has nothing to do with this question. And it’s something else. It could be your undergrad grades or your MCAT score or your activities.

'There could be a million reasons why you're not getting an interview, getting an acceptance, and getting into medical school.'Click To Tweet

Therefore, we couldn’t really single out this question as a reason why you are being filtered out. Answering yes to this question is not the problem in my mind.

[09:04] A Moment for Self-Reflection

Again, students are answering Yes to this question. And as long as they own it, they’re getting in. A lot of these questions are not automatic filters for medical schools. 

'Students with alcohol violations, with misdemeanors, and with other issues in their application are getting into medical school.'Click To Tweet

So think of something else and reflect on the rest of your application. Maybe apply for Application Renovation, which is my YouTube series, where I look at the application. I will basically work with you to figure out where your application is lacking. We look at where you are missing out in your application to increase your chances of getting into medical school the next time you apply. Go to to apply to that series.


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