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Advice for my situation

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dionysus33

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I am a - soon to graduate - senior at a 'top 15' undegraduate university. My plan is to take a year off before applying to medical school, but I am having some reservations because I was accused of an academic integrity violation at the end of my junior year.


I understand how detrimental such a violation is just by being words on an application, so I am looking for advice on my future plans. In specific, the violation was due to improperly summarizing other research (not falsifying data or omitting citations). The words were there in black and white - no denial - but it was completely accidental/thoughtless being written through the late of night after a really tiring and struggle of a semester.



The violation resulted in me failing the assignment, which in turn caused me to fail the class. I was going through some personal issues for the semester, which is apparent through my overall grades before (3.85 GPA) the semester (where I got a 2.5 GPA). My overall GPA took a hit down to 3.62, but the class was not a science course and my science GPA is still over a 3.8.


I have two majors: biology, and a mixed program that covers philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. I don't have the greatest list of extracurricular involvement; I have been involved in some volunteer work at a food kitchen, played a fairly serious traveling club sport, have been a TA for biology labs, and have worked (or volunteered) as an assistant in both a biology and psychology labs.


I have not taken the MCAT yet; I was planning to do it in the summer immediately following graduation. Not to be over-confident, but I have done well in the courses related to the test, am a good standardized test taker, so my score would likely be a good point on my application.


Basically, how much is the academic integrity going to kill my chances? Do schools receive this information automatically, or do I have to disclose it? I was planning on attacking the subject head-on, as I think I can articulate fairly well the context of my incident, what caused it, what I learned from it, and how I have implemented change for the better because of it. Would this be appropriate for an essay (not a dramatic sob-story or excusing myself, but kind of as an analogy to other things)?


Also if anyone has advice on what would be good for my time off before applying that would allow me to take the MCAT post-graduation. I was looking into some volunteer abroad programs, but I don't know if any are appropriate for the time-frame I will have available after the MCAT and before applications are due.


A huge thank you to anyone who reads my (long) post and can give me any advice or tips.
 

NickNaylor

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It's one thing if this happened to you as a freshman, but you were an upperclassman. As someone that doesn't know you (i.e., like those reading your application), that makes me think that you're a regular cheater and simply got caught this time. That's obviously not a good thing. Even though the violation seems pretty benign, unfortunately the institutions that receive your application may not even take the time to read your explanation, especially if they see that you were an advanced student when this happened.

Schools will receive the information if judicial issues are included on transcripts. Some schools also request that you get a letter from your dean's office that discusses your judicial/behavioral record. Other than that, you have to disclose the situation on AMCAS.

I would only provide a brief explanation of what happened. This isn't something that I would emphasize on your PS. Unfortunately the damage is done, and all you can do is hope for the best and that application reviewers will look past the violation.

Good luck.
 

dionysus33

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I understand that 'cheater' sentiment. At the same time that's why I was considering writing about my experience, because I don't see it as a typical 'cheater' example. There were extraneous circumstances to the event that would be discussed, but I hardly even remember writing the paper. I was just burnt out without sleep.

The reason I don't see it as 'once a cheater always a cheater' is because it was completely unintentional. I thought I had paraphrased properly and it turned out a handful of sentences in a 10 page paper were not. I cited the article I was referencing properly, not exactly the smartest cheating method.
 

aSagacious

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In specific, the violation was due to improperly summarizing other research (not falsifying data or omitting citations).

Could you elaborate on this? I interpret this to mean that you had a handful of sentences that were essentially a verbatim reproduction from the source and failed to acknowledge it in an in-text citation (but later cited the source in the works-cited). I have a hard time believing that something as simple as this would cause a professor to look closely enough to call you out on cheating.
 

dionysus33

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Could you elaborate on this? I interpret this to mean that you had a handful of sentences that were essentially a verbatim reproduction from the source and failed to acknowledge it in an in-text citation (but later cited the source in the works-cited). I have a hard time believing that something as simple as this would cause a professor to look closely enough to call you out on cheating.

There were sentences that were very similar, none verbatim, some of them vaguely similar. All of them were cited in the text, though following the sentence. Unfortunately, it is and was enough.
 

aSagacious

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There were sentences that were very similar, none verbatim, some of them vaguely similar. All of them were cited in the text, though following the sentence. Unfortunately, it is and was enough.

Well, if true, I think this is among the more benign cases of cheating (if there is such a thing) that I've come across and frankly I'm a bit surprised that your professor chose to be so harsh.

Anyway, is there a formal institutional action listed on your transcript (or on any existing disciplinary records) or did she simply give you an F on your paper? If it's the former then you've got a steep uphill battle ahead, if the latter it will not hurt you as much (but you still need a better explanation than 'I was tired').
 
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