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Worried about future application


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Hey I'm a junior in college and will be applying to graduate schools next fall. Overall I have a 3.982 gpa, reading proficiency in one of my language requirements for the program I wish to apply, a few graduate classes that I have been able to complete as an undergraduate, and an undergraduate assistant teaching position, in addition to being in contact with the professor I wish to work with. In my freshman year though, I had some problems with drugs and alchohol that put me on medical leave from a prestigious college. From that year I have a 3.5 gpa but it isn't factored into my current one. The current college i attend is a public commuter college which I hurriedly applied to after being put on leave. I am wondering if the schools I am applying to will inquire into my leave of absence on my transcript, or if my former college will inform them about why I left with my transcript. Will my issues freshman year affect my being accepted into a graduate program?

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First off, you'll be required to submit a transcript from each school you attended, including the one you transferred out of. The best thing you can do is find out what the official transcript looks like and whether it specifies the reason why you stopped attending. My guess would be that it doesn't, and that the school will not just disclose this information to unauthorized parties (e.g., grad school adcoms). If that is the case, then you need to think about whether or not to address this blemish in your SOP when you apply. On the one hand, your GPA was not low; on the other hand, you left that school and moved to a less prestigious one for no apparent reason. Some people will wonder. You could address this with a one-line vague statement in your SOP that mentions personal circumstances that forced you to take a leave of absence and then go to a new school. In all likelihood, that will satisfy adcom's curiosities and they will not ask further questions. If/when you get interviews, if you're concerned that the issue will come up, then maybe you can prepare a response that sort of addresses the question but avoids unnecessary details. In any event, that's about a year into the future and (I think) generally unlikely to come up in conversation unless you talk about it yourself. So, I'd say consult an advisor if you have one you trust to work out whatever plan you want to pursue, but otherwise don't worry overmuch. If you are doing demonstrably better now, that should be enough to overcome this issue.

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