College applicants with criminal records given a better shot with new initiative

Young people with criminal records have a tough road ahead of them when it comes to applying for college and graduate school. Most colleges run background checks, scanning for past offenses. Past convictions can cause an application to be ignored, school housing denied, and financial aid taken away. Fortunately over sixty colleges have signed a new pledge announced by the Obama administration to give applicants with a criminal record a better chance at acceptance.

The Fair Chance for Higher Education pledge asks colleges to commit to creating new admissions practices that do not eliminate applicants early in the decision making process due to their record. The initiative will create new opportunities for internships and job training.

This pledge offers an opportunity to young people who hope a one-time mistake will not impact the rest of their lives. Although schools are beginning to adopt a different view on the admissions process, challenges will still riddle the path of students looking to further their education.

Advice for college applications with past convictions

Chances are better for college applicants with past convictions under Obama's new pledge, but there are still some restrictions. Anyone convicted of any drug offense including misdemeanors or felonies cannot receive federal financial aid. This is a huge blow to those dreading lofty university loans or graduate school prices. Drug crimes can also deter medical schools from accepting students due to the nature of the profession. There is hope to those facing a drug conviction because it is possible to get a case dismissed or charges reduced with help of an experienced attorney.

The best option for new applicants is honesty. Lying or withholding information is enough grounds to drop your application. It is better to fully disclose any past convictions when asked during the application process. Another way to better chances of acceptance is to include context of the conviction. School committees often take context into consideration such as a loss of a family member or extenuating circumstances. It can also help to include any efforts to take part in a rehabilitation program or volunteer community work.

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