When you apply for college in Pennsylvania, you may not give much thought to a question about your criminal record. If you have a misdemeanor on your record, though, you may wonder if you might be denied admission if you answer honestly.
You may think that universities ask about your criminal record because they want to make sure their campus is safe. According to The Atlantic, college campuses are not necessarily safer because the administration knows about your misdemeanor. The director of an advocacy group says that students who have a misdemeanor or other offense on their record are rarely a threat to other people on campus. Instead, it is typically students without a criminal record who are associated with crime. Additionally, these crimes are usually connected to athletics or drinking.
Although you may not want to disclose information about your misdemeanor, you may sometimes be obligated to. This is because many universities use the Common App for their admissions process. A question about your criminal record is one of the standard questions on this application. Even if a school does not use the Common App, you might still need to report your misdemeanor. This is because some states require colleges to ask about the criminal history of every applicant.
When you report your misdemeanor, a university may not always know what to do with this information. Many colleges do not have policies about criminal records and admission, and staff are usually not trained to explicate this information. Universities do not always use your criminal record to determine if they should grant you admission. The vice president of one university says that schools typically focus on your academic history and let you explain the situation that led to your misdemeanor.
This information is general in nature and should not be used in place of legal advice.