Whether it be an “informal” meeting with the Dean to “discuss” the incident, or a formal conference or disciplinary hearing before an administrator or a disciplinary panel, a college should student be prepared. Many times students don’t know or understand the disciplinary process and think it’s “no big deal” or they have been told by another student who has gone though the process “not worry about it.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.  You need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

The first way to prepare is to read and be familiar with the college code of conduct or disciplinary code. They are not normally that long or difficult to understand, as they are written for the students, faculty and administration – not attorneys.  I suggest printing out and highlighting the relevant sections. Bring these with you to the meeting or hearing.

What is relevant?  First, know exactly the violation you are being accused of and the possible outcomes or sanctions, i.e. a warning or suspension for example. Second, read about the procedure of the disciplinary hearing and your options.  Meaning, what steps are involved your college’s disciplinary process?  Does it being with a letter advising you of the charges or a meeting with the Dean? What type of hearing are you entitled to?  An informal hearing before the Dean or a formal panel of students and faculty?  Highlight the deadlines and time limits which may apply to your options or decisions.

The next preparation the college student should take is outlining in writing, #1 any questions you may have about the process and #2 important points that you want to make about the facts, situation or violation/accusations. If you are preparing for a final hearing you can bring documents and witnesses to present.  These should be prepared ahead of time and ready to go before the hearing.

Lastly, take time to sit down and really think and ponder the violation.  Was it an academic cheating violation? Or a drug or alcohol violation?  Really, no matter what the allegations are you should consider what you are going to tell the disciplinary official if you are found guilty or in violation.  What they want to hear is that you are sorry – sincerely sorry – and what you have learned from the entire experience and how you are going to change your behavior to prevent this from happening again.

Disciplinary officials are impressed with students who are prepared and take this entire process seriously.