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Big Debate Brewing over Whether Colleges Should Ask Applicants about Arrests and Criminal Convictions

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Big Debate Brewing over Whether Colleges Should Ask Applicants about Arrests and Criminal Convictions

March 4, 2016

When a young person applies to college, it is an exciting time in their life because they get to anticipate what the future might hold. Unfortunately, many college applicants these days are forced to relive their past mistakes. That’s because the Common Application, which is used by more than 620 universities and colleges in the U.S., makes specific inquiries about past disciplinary actions, including arrests and criminal convictions.

The questions about whether a student has been disciplined in the past were initially added to the Common App back in 2006-07. In 2014-2015, more than 860,000 students filed their college applications by using the Common Application, which is why this issue of past disciplinary actions has become a major focus of legal advocates who believe that one mistake should not derail an applicant’s bright and promising future.

Some college admissions representatives have countered that the discipline questions are necessary in order to ensure that university campuses remain safe. Admitting individuals with past criminal convictions and arrests, they argue, could create significant safety risks for students and faculty.

One major issue that some experts have raised about the discipline questions is that they may unfairly target minorities, who are disproportionately arrested and disciplined as a result of living in low-income neighborhoods. Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, recently noted that the disciplinary questions on the Common Application “unfairly deny educational opportunity to, or have a chilling effect on, African Americans and other minority groups.”

For more information on this developing situation, check out the Yahoo.com article, “Should High School Punishments Go on College Applications?”


If your child was arrested or charged with a crime like shoplifting, simple assault or any other criminal offense in New Jersey, it is imperative that you speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The aggressive criminal defense attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC will help your son or daughter fight the charges and keep their record clear of a criminal conviction. Contact us today for a free consultation.

“The attorney working on my personal injury case was knowledgable, courteous, and payed careful attention to every detail. He was sure to address any questions and concerns thoughtfully and respectfully. I have had an excellent experience interacting with the firm and I highly recommend the law firm of Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza to others.”

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