Can I Get Into College With a Conviction on My Record?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 29, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It might be the scariest part about getting in trouble in high school: it could end up on your permanent record, and keep you from going to college. No one wants to jeopardize their future with some juvenile shenanigans.

But with employers relaxing their standards when it comes to hiring ex-cons, could colleges follow suit and leave questions about criminal convictions off their applications? One premiere university might be leading the way.

New Look University

It won't shock you to learn that college applications are centralized and online these days. The majority of prospective freshman fill out the Common Application, which they can use to apply to over 500 colleges and universities. This online application includes a question about your criminal history.

But New York University announced that it will no longer consider an applicant's answer to that question during its first round of selection. While college hopefuls will still need to complete that section of the application, but admissions officers won't see the answers right away. A special committee can later review a student's history if there are campus safety concerns.

School's Out

The Center for Community Alternatives estimates 20% of colleges either don't ask applicants about their criminal records or disregard the answer. And The New York Times Editorial Board supported the Center's call for a reduced emphasis on criminal records when it comes to college applications.

NYU and other schools may be following employers' leads. There are both incentives for hiring felons and penalties for having blanket policies barring those with a criminal history. But despite the larger trend of employers and some schools disregarding criminal records, many schools still use it in their application and acceptance process.

If you're concerned that a criminal conviction could keep you from attending college, you may want to talk to an experienced education attorney about your options.

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