Kicked Out of College?

Learn what to do if you've been dismissed or suspended

College student looking up
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Being kicked out of college happens more often than many people think. Students are kicked out of college for all kinds of reasons: cheating, plagiarism, poor grades, addictions, bad behavior. So just what are your options if you find yourself holding a dismissal letter?

Follow These Steps After Being Kicked Out of College

Step 1: Know the reason(s) for your dismissal. Chances are your letter of dismissal was sent after a long series of negative interactions with professors, staff, or other students, so you probably have a pretty good idea of what went wrong. Still, though, it's important to be sure your assumptions are correct. Were you kicked out of college because you failed your classes? Because of your behavior? Be clear on the reasons for your dismissal so you'll know what your options are for the future. It's easier to ask questions and make sure you understand the reasons now than it will be one, two, or even five years from now.

Step 2: Know what, if any, conditions there are for your return. First and foremost, be clear on if you're ever allowed back at the institution. And if you will be allowed back, be clear on what you'll need to be eligible to enroll again. Sometimes colleges need letters or reports from doctors or therapists to avoid the possibility of the same issues arising for the second time.

Step 3: Spend some time figuring out what went wrong. Did you not go to class? Act in a way that you regret now? Spend too much time on the party scene? Don't know just the act(s) that got you kicked out; know what caused them and why you made the choices you did. Really understanding what led up to and resulted in being kicked out is perhaps the most important step you can take toward learning from the experience.

Step 4: Make productive use of your time afterward. Being kicked out of college is a serious black mark on your record. So how can you turn a negative into a positive? Start by learning from your mistakes and bettering yourself and your situation. Get a job to show you're responsible; take a class at another school to show you can handle the workload; get counseling to show you no longer will make unhealthy choices around drugs and alcohol. Just doing something productive with your time will help show prospective employers or colleges that being kicked out of college was an unusual speed bump in your life, not your normal pattern.

Step 5: Move on. Being kicked out of college can be hard on your pride, to say the least. But know that people make mistakes of all kinds and that the strongest people learn from them. Acknowledge what you did wrong, pick yourself up, and move on. Being extra harsh on yourself can sometimes keep you stuck in the mistake. Focus on what's next in your life and what you can do to get there.