I got a B.S. in Math several years ago. I'm applying for CS MS this fall, but I still need some coursework before admission. I spent the past year at College X as a non-degree student. I did well last fall (all As), but was caught cheating on an elective CS class this spring (googled some answers on one homework assignment). The result is a B- in the class (instead of a B). I realize I'm fortunate for a pretty minimal penalty -- I just got a 0 on the assignment, and a one-semester probation (which doesn't affect me since I was only a non-degree student here and I'm not continuing here anyway). I don't have an excuse for this, and I don't know why I decided to do this. This is the only time I've cheated. For whatever it's worth, it's not indicated on my transcript, only in some confidential file the university has somewhere. My questions are:
How badly does this affect my chances for admission? I was planning on applying to just one top 20 school that I doubt I'd get into anyway, but most of the schools on my list are still ranked in the top 50.
More importantly, is there anything I can do to repair the situation? I don't have years of time before application season to be able to say it happened a long time ago. That said, I'm taking two classes this summer at College Y, and another class in the fall at either College Z or Z'. The advice given in a similar thread here was to do very well in classes from here on out, but would people reading my application even believe the rest of my work is honest after committing academic dishonesty?
If I go to College Z this fall, I could also retake the same class from this spring. It wouldn't do anything to help my GPA at College X, but my GPA there is > 3.6 anyway. I believe I could do well, at least an A-. The class also covers an extra couple chapters, one of which is related to my CS interests. Would it be worth "retaking?" It's basically the same class, so it feels like it might be a waste of time, especially since one B- isn't that bad. If I go to College Z' this fall, I could probably take an advanced class related to the class I took this spring. This advanced (joint undergrad/grad) class seems to cover a lot of material specifically related to my CS interests.
My overall application is pretty strong (3.7 GPA, GRE 170Q, 158V, 4.5A, 2-3 strong LORs, 75%ile Math Subject GRE). Hopefully it helps that three schools I'm considering are Colleges Y, Z, and Z', so maybe having a little bit of coursework done at two of them could help.
Thanks for any advice.