The Skill To Defend You

Schooling: Harder with a criminal past

If you are graduating from high school and have been accepted into the university of your choice, you’re probably on cloud nine. You’re ready to move forward in your life and to begin living independently. You want to be successful and to have a great career.

Your plans might be wasted if you commit a crime, however. A conviction can actually result in a college rescinding its offer to attend their institution. Even if it doesn’t rescind its offer, it may take away scholarships. Criminal convictions also sometimes limit your access to federal funds for loans and support throughout school.

There are stories about people who have gotten accepted into Ivy League schools only to find out that the offer was rescinded because of their pasts. For example, a woman, 20, was accepted into Harvard University. The university changed its mind when it discovered that she had killed her 4-year-old child. She was able to go on to another college, but it was not the prestigious school she expected to attend.

Yes, schools can deny entry based on criminal acts

You might think that schools shouldn’t be able to look into your past criminal record to make decisions today, but they can and do. Every case is individual, and certain crimes might not be as serious in the eyes of the university. However, many people struggle to enter into college with as little as a DUI on their record.

A 2012 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics calculated that around one in three people would have an arrest on their records by the age of 23. This could mean that people entering into colleges or those who are already enrolled risk being cut off from scholarship funds, federal financial aid and other support.

The State University of New York showed, in a 2015 study, that two-thirds of applicants who had criminal backgrounds did not complete the admissions process. Around 21 percent with no record failed to complete the application process. This is a stark comparison of how a single criminal offense can hinder people from going on to better themselves through education.

American educators and the court system must find a remedy for this troubling statistic. Getting more education is directly linked to a reduction in crimes, but not allowing people with a past record to enter into schools hinders such a goal. Sealing a criminal record is one way to help individuals move on after their time has been served.