Plagiarism allegations are common in colleges throughout the United States. In fact, one survey alleges more than one out of three undergraduate students has copied material from others at one point or another. Identifying genuine acts of plagiarism can be difficult, however, which can lead to false accusations centering on similar formats or style.
Regardless of whether these allegations are reasonable or not, many college students charged with plagiarism now face the threat of missing out on furthering their education entirely. Students considering law school or some other form of post-graduate education will learn that admissions offices take allegations of plagiarism seriously, and they can be the difference between getting into a program or not.
How Colleges Approach Plagiarism on Transcripts
How colleges approach allegations or findings of plagiarism differ significantly, which can also play a major role in whether an admissions board is even aware of an allegation.
Traditionally, graduate school admissions boards will have little to no contact with the colleges their prospective students have graduated from. These boards will review the applications of the prospective student, only corroborating that student's grades and diploma with the use of an official transcript. If a student's grades and LSAT score check out, there could be little to contact from the admissions board with the student or anyone else. For the most part, the transcript is often the only communication directly between the two schools.
This is important, as schools vary in the amount of information they provide in their transcripts. If a college transcript only reflects class grades and nothing more, it might not reflect any disciplinary marks against you. Other schools take a more comprehensive approach. This means if you fail a class due to plagiarism allegations, the class records might have a note to that effect.
Even if the transcript does not explicitly show a finding of plagiarism, that does not mean admissions committees will not investigate irregularities. If your grades are strong other an unexplained F in the course you are alleged to have plagiarized in, they might want more information from you. Further, your application likely asks questions regarding if you have ever been adjudicated guilty of academic fraud during the course of your college career (and quite possibly during your high school career also).
The end result is that while your transcript might be silent as to the specifics of your alleged plagiarism, an admissions committee might still work out what happened or come back with additional questions. If you aren't truthful with these questions, you face digging an even deeper hole should the admissions committee ultimately learn of your plagiarism.
Avoiding a Mark on Your Record
Many students accused of plagiarism – even those facing false accusations – do not realize they have rights in this situation. It is vital to make use of the formal disciplinary process a school uses as opposed to accepting a teacher's finding of plagiarism. In many cases, you could successfully defend yourself and reverse this decision entirely. What is certain is that if you fail to act, you are at the mercy of the university and their transcript policies.
If you have been accused of plagiarism, you do not have to sit by and do nothing. Attorney Joseph D. Lento defends students across the country of wrongdoing and can advise you on defending yourself against claims of plagiarism. To learn more, contact him online or call 888-535-3686 for more information.