In my junior year I was caught cheating. I took in extra papers in an exam and tried to look up information on them (honestly, this was deliberate cheating). I have received the following sanctions:
- Grade zero for the course
- My Bachelor degree will be conferred one year after my graduation
I retook the course and got an A afterwards. On my transcript there is a mark indicating a retaken course (but not dishonesty). I decided to learn from this and move on afterwards. I made no mistakes after that. I maintained a GPA of 3.8/4.0 (or top 5%), produced several manuscripts on submission in my undergraduate research and TAed several times with nice experiences. I'm also sure my recommendation letters will be strong (at least OK).
I fear that someone who knows this history can report this to my school even if I get admitted, which is more disastrous, so I must state this clearly in my applications. However, it is still a tough job for me to approach my academic dishonesty in graduate study application (I have graduated this year and plan to apply this year also).
Question: I will be asked if I have been sanctioned because of academic dishonesty. I decide to answer ``yes'' honestly. But how should I explain it? Will this be fatal to my chances of admission? Should I talk to my adviser (who does not know my mistake) to address my changes in the recommendation letter?
(I am not a US citizen but I plan to apply for programs in the US.)