The Advantage Of Knowing How The Other Side Thinks

615-861-1191 Nichole 615-656-0257 Kate

Do I have to put this on my college application?

You get arrested as a senior in high school. Your first concerns are fairly immediate: What will your parents say? What legal rights do you have? Are you going to have to spend time in jail or pay a fine?

As things move forward, though, you start thinking a bit farther out and asking big questions about your educational future. Namely, you want to know if you have to list your criminal history on your college application.

No longer part of the Common Application

If you're planning to use The Common Application, as many students do, you will probably be glad to know that they no longer ask about criminal history. This change first impacted the 2019-2020 applications, after they announced the change in 2018.

That was a big change, to say the least. People had been against the question for years. In just 2017, The Common Application considered it and decided to keep it. That lasted for one more year before they flipped the script and opted to take it off.

That does signify that they could once again change their minds in the future. So, whether or not you'll see the question may depend on when you apply to go to college. As of now, though, they're not going to ask you.

Colleges can ask

That said, many colleges ask for supplementary information to go along with the standard application. If they choose to ask you about your criminal history, they still have the ability to do so. They're not bound by the decision of The Common Application.

This is essentially the same as the stance that they took prior to this, when they did ask about criminal histories. They said that colleges could ignore the answers if they wanted. Now, colleges are allowed to seek the answers if they so choose. It's all up to them. Where you apply determines whether your record will impact your application status.

Why remove the question?

People had a lot of complaints about asking about criminal histories in this context. They felt it may hold back minority students more, for instance, if they did not get fair treatment from law enforcement. They also recognized that students are growing and learning. If a student got arrested in high school, did that really reflect who they were in college? It seemed like asking was simply unfair to students trying to better their lives.

Your rights

Of course, the fact that you're thinking about your future like this shows that you understand the potential impact of charges at such a young age. Make sure you also understand your legal defense options in Tennessee.

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