Readmission to College: The Application Process

This is the second of two posts about the readmission process after academic dismissal. Be sure to read the first post for some suggestions about working with the college during your student’s time away.

Most students who are academically dismissed from college are asked to spend a certain period of time out of the school. That may be a semester, a year, or even longer. If your student has been working closely with the college after his dismissal, he will be clear about the length of time away, and he will have some information about how best to spend that time. The college recognizes that something went wrong for the student when he was enrolled and hopes that some time away will allow the student to address whatever issues interfered with his success.

The decision to return

Once your student feels ready to return to school, the first decision he will need to make is whether he will apply for readmission to his original school or consider transferring to another college or university. This is a very personal decision and should be made in conjunction with his family, and after gathering all of the necessary information from both his original school and any schools to which he is considering applying.

There is no guarantee that your student will be readmitted to his original school. When your student is ready to return, he will likely need to complete an application for readmission. This is not the same as the original application process, but will most probably ask your student to give some information about how he has spent his time away and why he believes that he will now be able to succeed. If your student is planning to transfer to another institution, sharing this information along with his application may also be a good idea. It will help to balance and explain what may be a poor transcript.

Preparing to reapply

Before your student begins the readmission process he should be very sure that he is ready to return and to be successful. Some students may be ready to return to school fairly quickly. Perhaps the dismissal itself was all that it took for the student to have a ”wake-up call” and he is ready to return with a new attitude and approach. Other students may have significant and serious work to do during their time away. Perhaps your student simply needs time to mature and understand the importance of college. Perhaps he needs to find direction and motivation. Perhaps he has serious health, mental health, or family/life issues that need to be addressed before he can return and be successful.

Each student’s timetable may be different. It is important that your student not attempt to return until he is ready or he will find himself in trouble once again. Help your student determine whether he feels ready to succeed. If your student feels ready to return to school, has decided where he wishes to go (his former school or a new school), has worked with the school to understand the readmission or transfer process, then he may be ready to begin.

The first step in preparing to reapply will be to gather together all necessary and helpful materials and documentation. Although the school will have a copy of your student’s transcript, it might be helpful for your student to have it to refresh his mind about specific classes/grades. Your student should gather any additional documentation that might be helpful — verification of employment, transcripts from classes taken elsewhere during the dismissal period, any relevant medical information or doctor’s letters, documentation of finances if relevant, death notices or other documentation if family issues were a factor. The more information that your student has to support his application the stronger his case will be. Taking time and care to be specific and to do the homework will demonstrate your student’s commitment to returning and succeeding.

The application

The college may have a specific form that will need to be completed in order to apply for readmission. As part of that form, or in addition to that form, your student may have an opportunity to submit a letter describing his understanding of his difficulties, explaining how he spent his time away, and explaining what he hopes to do differently upon his return.

It is essential that your student take time and care with all portions of the readmission application. He wants to demonstrate seriousness and maturity. Here are a few elements and characteristics of a good readmission packet.

  • Be completely honest in all materials. Do not exaggerate, do not fabricate, do not omit anything relevant. It is important that your student explain the relevant factors that caused the original problems as well as his understanding of them.
  • Read the letter/application carefully to be sure that it does not sound angry or that your student does not appear to feel entitled. The college does not owe him readmission. He will need to own responsibility for the situation.
  • Do not blame anyone else — the college, parents, teachers, a boss, a girlfriend or boyfriend. Take responsibility.
  • Have a plan. This is important. Demonstrate an understanding of what it will take to succeed. Demonstrate that the time away has allowed for understanding, goal setting, and an action plan to reach those goals.


Once your student has been readmitted, his work actually begins. It is important that he understand that he may return on probationary status, may be required to sign a readmissions contract, may be required to meet with a counselor or advisor, may be required to attend success workshops. It is important that he do all that is asked/required of him.

Encourage him to reach out to all support available. Encourage your student to think carefully about potential ”what if” scenarios. He may have action plans, but ”what if” something goes wrong? How will he respond/react? Encourage your student to work closely with his advisor to have a realistic sense of what he needs to do to complete his degree. The more that your student feels in control of his path, the more successful he is likely to be.

Many students who return to school after academic dismissal can be entirely successful. This marks a turning point for your student. This may not be the path that you or your student originally imagined, but it can be a successful path that will eventually lead your student to graduation.

Related Posts:

Readmission to College: Work With the School

Seven Actions Your College Student Should Take Now to Make This the Best Semester Ever

Ten Wise Decisions Your College Student Can Make to Improve His GPA

Should My Student Consider Retaking a Course?


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