Impact of Juvenile Crime on School and College Application
Will Juvenile Charges Prevent Me from Getting into College?
If your child is facing juvenile criminal charges, one of the thoughts uppermost in your mind at this time could be how those charges—and possible conviction—will affect his or her chances of getting into college. In fact, according to Chicago Policy Review, more than 60 percent of American colleges consider criminal history as a part of the admissions process. This can place juveniles who made some bad decisions when they were younger at a serious disadvantage for future employment and education opportunities. Juvenile arrests are associated with an increase in high school dropouts and a decrease in college enrollments however this is not due to choices made by the juveniles, rather is a consequence of the policies which encourage junior and high schools to expel or isolate delinquent students.
Juveniles Arrested While in High School May Not Graduate
In fact, only 26 percent of those juveniles arrested ended up graduating from high school. The education gap between juveniles who have been arrested and those who have not been arrested continues after high school. The juveniles who were arrested had a 16 percent lower probability of enrolling in a four-year college than juveniles with the same individual characteristics who were not arrested. Juveniles arrested while in junior high or high school often have the same aspirations as their peers, however schools and colleges place obstacles in the way of those aspirations. Junior high and high schools tend to marginalize students who have been arrested, therefore expulsion is a normal consequence of a juvenile conviction—and, in some cases, even a consequence of an arrest, with no conviction.
Surveys Show the Majority of Colleges Ask Criminal History Questions
Questions regarding criminal history are fairly widespread in the admissions process, even among the less selective institutions. In other words, if you thought only the Ivy League colleges cared about a juvenile criminal record, think again. Three national surveys of admissions practices by colleges across the nation indicated that 60-80 percent of private institutions and more than half of all public institutions require applicants to answer criminal history questions.
Community colleges are not exempt from the practice either. About 40 percent of community colleges report they require applicants to answer criminal history questions on the application. Even when the questions are relatively limited, an affirmative answer can trigger extensive reporting requirements. As an example, some community colleges in the United States require applicants with any felony conviction to pay for and undergo a full national background check.
Financial Aid Applications Use Criminal History Information
Financial aid applications also make use of criminal history information, beyond their role in student admissions. In 1998 Congress allowed a new question to be placed on the FAFSA application to prevent any applicant with a felony or misdemeanor drug-related to conviction form receiving work-study, Stafford Loans, Pell Grants and any other type of federal financial aid. In 2007, the scope of the question was limited to those offenses a student committed while receiving federal student aid, making the question irrelevant for first-time college applicants. That being said, the question remains on the FAFSA application and often cause some confusion—students see the question and believe they have to answer it, unwittingly contributing to the role FAFSA plays in college enrollment.
College Admissions Applications Request More Criminal History Documentation Than Employers
College admissions applications often request a scope of criminal history documentation that is even broader than what the majority of employers request from prospective employees. Employers usually limit questions on job applications strictly to convictions rather than arrests, and usually only to felony convictions. In some cases, employers limit that question even further, only asking about felony convictions within a specific time period. In sharp contrast, college applications often ask about felonies and misdemeanors, without any time limitations and many ask about juvenile adjudications. Remember, these extensive criminal history questions are those found on the Common Application used by the majority of colleges. Some colleges that do not use the Common Application have even more extensive criminal history questions.
Some institutions ask for information regarding pending felony charges, arrests, “other” crimes and even trespassing warnings. One of the three surveys found that more than a third of admissions officers would even consider a pending misdemeanor or a misdemeanor arrest in a negative light when considering admission for a student. Both the Common Application as well as many other college applications ask about disciplinary violations while in high school—high school detention or one, two, or three-day suspension for a minor incident could become a barrier to college admission.
Just How Big is the Problem?
Those who have never been in trouble themselves—or whose children have never been in any type of trouble—tend to believe the issue is much smaller than it actually is. In reality, the number of Americans with a criminal record of some type is much bigger than you might imagine. Almost one in every three Americans have been arrested by the age of 23, with arrest rates even higher among young men of color (44 percent of Hispanic males, 49 percent of black males and 38 percent of white males have been arrested by the age of 23). Of course, not every arrest leads to a conviction and a criminal record, but even the arrests themselves can be barriers to college admission.
It is estimated that at least 120,000 college applicants with a felony conviction are denied admission each year, not taking into account the number of those who are discouraged from even attempting to apply because of the questions regarding criminal history. The rejections for college applicants with some type of criminal conviction usually are not automatic—because such “blanket” bans could potentially be illegal. Instead, those who “check the box” may be required to go through an additional, quite lengthy, screening process which is both confusing and difficult for students to get through. In fact, more than 60 percent of applicants with a felony conviction failed to complete the additional screening process.
Key Issues in Juvenile Defense
Juvenile Proceedings in Pennsylvania
Deferred Adjudication and the Consent Decree for Chester County Juveniles
Potential Consequences for a Juvenile Conviction in West Chester
How will Juvenile Charges Impact My College Application?
Do a need a Juvenile Attorney?
What is the Juvenile Court Process?
Will Your Child Be Prosecuted like an Adult?
What Does a Juvenile Probation Officer Do?
What’s the Difference Between a Juvenile and an Adult Prosecution?
A Vicious Cycle—Access to Higher Education Reduces Further Criminal Behaviors Yet Those with a Criminal History May Not Have Access to Higher Education
This is all extremely discouraging news considering the fact that access to higher education absolutely reduces further criminal behaviors—in other words, those students who may have had juvenile issues vastly reduce their likelihood of subsequent criminal offenses when they attend college. And, in the main, college campuses are safe environments—whatever small gains which could potentially be made in terms of campus safety by excluding those with a criminal history could well be outweighed by the increased risk of recidivism by those excluded from higher education. This means that when you exclude those with a criminal record—particularly those with a juvenile criminal record—society is actually made less safe as a whole.
From College Applications to Employment Applications the Impact of a Criminal History is Significant
Students who are barred from seeking higher education because of a juvenile criminal record, may find the same issues waiting on them when they apply for employment. Criminal histories, when solicited early on in the application process, almost always present a major barrier to employment. When employers are prohibited from asking potential job candidates about prior convictions on a routine employment application, they may take a different route by illegally attempt to use age, gender, race and appearance to determine whether an applicant is likely to have a criminal history.
This means that when the underlying beliefs of an employer are racially or otherwise biased, job applicants suffer. While President Obama was in office, the Department of Education released a resource guide meant to help colleges reduce barriers for those with a criminal history who wanted to further their education. Some of the guidelines including ensuring necessary questions were narrowly focused—and clearly worded—as well as delaying collecting information regarding criminal history until after the admissions decision had been made.
Some Colleges Rethinking Criminal History Questions on Admissions Applications
In 2017, Louisiana became the first state to place a ban on all public colleges in the state asking about criminal history on an admissions application, other than crimes related to sexual assault or stalking. Maryland attempted to implement the same ban however it was vetoed by the governor. In 2016, the State University of New York voted to remove the questions on the admission application regarding prior felony convictions. Although 20 states adopted the “ban the box” policies regarding employment, the movement to do the same on college admissions is in its infancy and it is unclear whether the momentum for the movement will continue under the new administration.
Criminal History and Careers
As if it were not bad enough that some colleges and some employment opportunities are closed to those with a criminal history, there are also some career paths which are closed to those with even a misdemeanor conviction. As an example, lawyers must pass a character assessment prior to becoming licensed, and a serious misdemeanor conviction could prevent a law school graduate from obtaining a license. Medical professionals with a misdemeanor which relates to drug misuse or any type of mistreatment of a vulnerable population may be unable to obtain the necessary licenses needed for their profession, and even fields like teaching, accounting and law enforcement can be difficult for those with a criminal history—even misdemeanors—to join.
The Best Solution May Be Finding the Best Juvenile Lawyer Now
If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, the highly experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices can help. We will look at expungement (18 Pa.C.S. §9123) and will fight aggressively for your child’s rights and their freedom. We will protect them during this difficult time and represent them aggressively throughout the criminal process. Contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices today by email or by phone at (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422 immediately to begin building a solid defense against these serious charges. We represent juvenile clients in Chester County, Berks County, Bucks County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Montgomery County and Philadelphia.