Sometimes when we are young, we do not make the best decisions. What is important is that teens learn from their mistakes. A single instance of bad judgment can have repercussions. I will provide some guidance which will help you if you have been convicted of a drug-related offense as a minor. The purpose of this post is to answer the question (Can I still get into college with a drug-related offense on my record?)
While it is likely that you would not be completely banned, you would not be eligible for student loans. You also might not be able to get into certain programs, such as those involving, law enforcement, childcare or fields in education.
The first thing you should do is to be prepared to answer the question about your criminal record or drug related offenses if the school asks the question. Your answer should be truthful and include the following points:
- Accept responsibility for the bad decision
- Share what you have learned from the experience
- Share how you regret the poor choice, and how you have changed and grown
- Share how you have given back to society given your poor choices.
The goal is to accept, show empathy, and show growth. We all make mistakes in our youth, its how we learn and grow into the adults we become. The last point here is key; a giving back to society. If you have been convicted of drug related offense, volunteer with S.A.D.D. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and share what a slippery slope it was.
The second thing you need to do is determine what Financial Aid restrictions will be imposed upon you. With the high expense of higher education now-a-days, most college students need to take out a loan to pay their way through school. Your previous conviction will may make you ineligible for scholar ships or federal aid. The Federal student aid application specifically asks if you have had a drug repeated offense. The drug eligibility worksheet can help determine if your conviction impacts your eligibility.
Possession of Illegal Drugs:
First Offense: one year from date of conviction
Second Offense: two years from date of conviction
Third+ Offenses: indefinite period
Sale of Illegal Drugs:
First Offense: two years from date of conviction
Second Offense: indefinite period
Third+ Offenses: indefinite period
If you were convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, and the periods of ineligibility are different, you will be ineligible for the longer period.
If your not eligible at this time you can regain eligibility a bit earlier by completing a drug rehabilitation program or by passing two unannounced drug tests administered by the drug rehabilitation program. Finally you may be able to have your conviction reversed, although this is not likely, but feel free to call me to discuss if you think this may be an option. The FSFA offers a nice guide to help answer your questions.
Next step is to inquire the university. Some private schools will ask that you provide the information, while often public universities and community colleges will not request the information. Depending upon the convictions in your record, you may be better off applying to public universities and community colleges. If you are applying to a private university, include a cover letter with your application. Have the cover letter explain the offense and share your already prepared answer to the question.
Hopefully this faq helped to answer your question (Can I still get into college with a drug-related offense on my record?), you may also want to check out these articles to help understand how to fight a criminal conviction.