Institutional Action Help

Hi, I was hoping to get some advice for my situation as I know it is not a typical experience that students face in college. I just graduated from undergrad in May, but was reported to the office that handles academic integrity and student conduct earlier this year for a course I took senior fall. The professor for this course sent me to the office with 3 other individuals (I don’t know who they are, all of their information was redacted on the incident report), for our fast response times on the test and a period of inactivity.

On the final exam for this class, I answered all of the questions as fast as I possibly could and then had a period of inactivity where I didn’t click through the problems on the test. I chose to move as quickly as possible to at least have every question saved and worked on a word document to check my work for the rest of the exam in order to spend as little time using the browser and chancing another technological difficulty since I had previously already faced two technological problems in my exams in othere classes. I was incredibly pleased to see that some of our previous quizzes were on the test in similar formats as well as in some cases word for word, and noticed that some of the questions were also word for word out of the textbook that I had religiously studied for that exam. Prior to this exam, I had 2 other final exams for two different courses within a 2 day span where I faced separate technical difficulties during both exams which I took shortly before I took this exam. In the other two finals, my internet had crashed during one exam as well as having the proctored exam system freeze and stop loading questions in the second exam before automatically submitting so I did not have the opportunity to even select answers for questions. My overall grade had been negatively impacted had reached out to both professors and I was not granted any opportunity to finish either exam even though the conditions were out of my control.

While I was about to start the exam, I didn’t see any issue with the fact that I had chosen to do this as the exam was open note and open book and I didn’t believe there would be any problems with my method. However, I understood my professor’s suspision, and the administrator was determined that I more likely than not used some type of unauthorized aid. Although, I did not cheat on this exam, use unauthorized resources, or work with someone on this exam, I understood their perspective and thought process and accepted the charges of conduct probation for a year and a workshop that they have students complete to provide educational resources. The experience was incredibly taxing and I had decided not to move forward with another type of hearing because I didn’t understand how they would see things differently from the administrator I met with. The administrator told me that although he believes my situation could be true, he had to make his ruling based on what is more likely to occur than not.

Although I know that I did not cheat, I do take full responsibility for not communicating my concerns about this exam with my professor as I believe informing him of my previous experiences and making him aware of how I decided to take my exam could have prevented this whole experience. This experience also reaffirmed my desire to abide by the honor code and to maintain my integrity for everything in my life. I will never put myself in the position to have anything of this nature to occur in the future. Additionally, I learned how important it is to be proactive and to facilitate better communication with those around me.

Does this mean I do not have a chance at medical school? I don’t have the financial resources to pursue a masters program or post bacc to prove that I am maintaining my academic integrity after this incident and I am at a loss for what I should do. Is there any advice you could give me or feedback on my situation? I didn’t have any issues in any other courses throughout my time in undergrad or the spring semester which followed this incident, but I don’t entirely know how to move forward from this incident.


While I’ve never personally been in this situation, this is my opinion on how to move forward. Take what you think is useful and feel free to leave the rest.

The short answer… No, I don’t think that this will automatically disqualify you from being admitted into med school.

The long answer… Any disciplinary action by your school will be a red flag to admissions committees and you will have some explaining to do. And unfortunately, your lack of contesting the decision may be viewed by some as an admission of guilt and lead them to believe that the explanation above is merely a well-crafted cover story to avoid being labeled as a “cheater.” I’m not saying that this is true, merely pointing out how more skeptical individuals might view the situation. Nevertheless, honesty is the best policy here and, while I’m not the one you need to convince, I think your explanation above makes logical sense.

Concerning a post-bacc or SMP, unless there is some academic reason you would need these I’m not sure they would help much. As mentioned in the podcast below and suggested in your post it is possible that since the alleged offense took place your senior year, some extra course work might be useful in demonstrating that you’ve learned from your mistakes with actions, rather than just words. Even if you did this, I doubt you’d need to pursue a full program.

Lastly, there is no better source of information on how a specific med school will view your situation than the school itself. It rarely (if ever) hurts to contact a school you’re interested in, explain your situation, and ask for their guidance. Not only does this allow you to express interest in the school, it gives you the opportunity to “get ahead of the story” and advocate for yourself. Also, if you do this before application season, you can sometimes get more information as there are fewer restrictions on what deans can tell you (and they tend to have more time because they aren’t swamped by application decisions).

Dr. Gray discusses several potential red flags on: The Premed Years Episode 296: What Are Med School Red Flags & How Do You Talk About Them? While the entire episode is worth a listen, skip to 15:20 if you only care about his thoughts on institutional disciplinary actions.

Not going to sugar coat things, this is a tough situation but it’s also not impossible. And while (as noted above), some admins may be skeptical, you don’t need to persuade everyone. It only takes 1 med school giving you a chance to realize your dream of being a doctor.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

Thank you so much for your feedback. I understand that some individuals will be more skeptical. I did have email proof that I had technological difficulties that preceded this exam for two other classes that I presented as well as the document I had been working on that demonstrated when my work was last saved which was shortly after my exam was completed. I believe that the fact that other students were listed on the incident report for fast response times and differing periods of inactivity hurt my case because the professor sent multiple people to the office, but I did tell my truth and hoped that by telling my truth, I would be released as not responsible. Ultimately, the reason I did not further contest the decision after having multiple meetings with this administrator on my case is because I was informed that he had to make his ruling based on what was more likely to occur, which is that cheating and seeing as this was not resolved within 2 months of graduation, I was more focused on being able to graduate and had I contested the decision further, I would have no idea when this case could have gotten resolved and if I were to be left with the same ruling. I felt disheartened as though the council would not believe me if the administrator that I had spent several meetings explaining and reiterating my innocence had not been able to declare me not responsible. Unfortunaely, I was mortified to be put in this situation and wished more than anything for it to end. I now understand that further contesting this decision could have helped my case a little bit, but I was definitely overwhelmed with the situation and was at a complete loss on what to do.

It may take me a little bit of time to gather some courage to reach out to the medical schools themselves, but I truly appreciate that thought. Thank you so much for taking the time to send me this message. I truly appreciate it.

You’re welcome. It sounds like you actually contested the accusations more than I thought based on your original post (which will help). But like you said, all you can really do now is tell your truth.