Imagine a teenager is convicted of a drug crime in Tennessee. It's his first offense, and the teen completes all the terms of the sentence. He hopes to focus on the future, which had always included going to college.
However, those plans might not become reality because of a checkbox asking about a criminal record on the college application.
Currently, colleges across the U.S. use applications that inquire about an applicant's criminal history. Some schools reject otherwise eligible students just because they have a felony conviction; others don't have a specific procedure in place for responding to applicants with a checked box, which leads to inconsistent acceptance practices.
As such, many college hopefuls give up on their educational opportunities, assuming they won't get in.
Banning the box
Recently, however, changes were made to the Common Application, which is an application accepted by more than 700 colleges across the country. The Common App will no longer require students to check a box indicating whether they have a criminal history.
Why this is important
Criminal convictions can destroy a person's reputation, relationships and ambitions, even when these convictions happen at a young age. Not only do people have to serve a potentially harsh criminal sentence, they can also face considerable obstacles when they try to find a job or get into college to improve their lives.
This kind of punishment can only make matters worse for people trying to put a criminal mistake behind them.
Eliminating the question of a criminal history on college application can make applying for college less daunting and allow a child to pursue their higher education goals.
Avoiding conviction in the first place
Removing the criminal history question on a popular application is a positive move for young people held back by a conviction. However, avoiding conviction in the first place would be preferable for anyone facing criminal charges. As such, working with an attorney to defend against any charges you or your child may be facing can be crucial.