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My Grades Dipped for a Semester. Should I Explain Why?

Information adapted from Fiske Guide to Getting Into the Right College.

If there is a black mark on your record—like a suspension or a failing grade—don't just hope that the admissions office won't notice. Any reasonable explanation you can give without sounding whiny or bitter would be helpful. (Even more impressive would be an account of how the experience has helped you mature.)