Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community polls, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

News story about Common Application question about prior crimes or discipline issues

MotherOfTwoMotherOfTwo Posts: 2,110Registered User Senior Member
edited March 2007 in Parents Forum
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/front_page/20070326_A_different_kind_of_admissions_process.html

I think this is a good idea but can be taken too far. At our high school, detention was given out unfairly, in my opinion, for some extremely trivial issues. Example: Someone was late for school because his mother was going to give him a ride and locked her keys in the car accidentally and needed to call a locksmith. This was an unexcused infraction because the kid should have taken the bus earlier instead of depending on a ride from his mother! Although it is unlikely a college would care about something like this, it still detracts from the application to have it written on there. On the other hand, conviction of a serious crime does not indicate good character, obviously. There are also issues of crimes committed by a juvenile versus an adult which lawyers can address better than I can.

What does everyone else think?
Post edited by MotherOfTwo on
«1

Replies to: News story about Common Application question about prior crimes or discipline issues

  • northeastmomnortheastmom Posts: 12,379Registered User Senior Member
    I really don't think that they are looking for the kid who was 5 minutes late to school a few times per year b/c the student comes from a home with joint custody and the student lives 45 minutes + away from the school for half of the week, or because there isn't any public or school transportation and the family car has done over 150,000 miles.
  • MotherOfTwoMotherOfTwo Posts: 2,110Registered User Senior Member
    That kid should not be given detention to begin with, in my opinion. In the case of our high school, many parents found it was easier to say that the kid had been very sick the night before so they allowed the kid to sleep in, which was excused without any need for further proof. I know it is bad to lie, especially because it sets a very poor example to a kid in this situation, but giving out detention for something like this is so wrong that it is hard to resist the easy untruth.
  • MarianMarian Posts: 9,335Registered User Senior Member
    Detentions aren't serious disciplinary issues. Does the Common App really require students to list every minor problem they have ever had?
  • northeastmomnortheastmom Posts: 12,379Registered User Senior Member
    My son has a friend who receives detention quite regularly. His parents have joint custody. He needs to rely on his parents for transportation to school. I think it is wrong to punish the student for his tardiness, but I understand the reluctancy of a school to begin making exceptions on a case by case basis. I guess they are not interested in hearing about individual difficulties. This student is receiving punishments for a situation out of his control. What lesson is he learning? Come college time, I don't think that these detentions will be held against him. IMO, what he is going through will enhance his college application.

    Marian, we cross posted. I have no idea if detentions are included, but I don't think that they will really tarnish an application.
  • ChedvaChedva Posts: 19,268Super Moderator Senior Member
    I also don't think they're talking about detentions. As stated in the article, schools are looking for serious disciplinary problems - those that result in suspensions or expulsions.
  • PanhandlegalPanhandlegal Posts: 548Registered User Member
    Confidentiality issues suggest that schools avoid recording (ie: put it in writing) many disciplinary issues--fear of litigation, etc. It's along the same lines as letters of reference in the workplace. Many employers will only confirm that the person in question was actually employed by them and will not speak to character, job performance, etc. for fear of being sued. The question is...What obligation does your neighborhood high school have to the world of higher education? As mentioned in the article, counselors are advocates for the student and most don't want to unfairly label an applicant. If a lawsuit should result, is the school going to have to spend tax dollars to defend itself? Can be a very knotty issue!
  • MarianMarian Posts: 9,335Registered User Senior Member
    I don't think even in-school suspensions count. My son got one of those (for violating the school computer policy in some obscure manner) and was specifically told that he was not required to mention it on college applications. However, this was a few years ago, before the current version of the Common App was in use.

    Heaven help college admissions officers if they have to read the full details about every time a kid got caught sending personal e-mails on school computers, or eating in class, or being tardy, or forgetting his gym clothing, or skipping a pep rally, or all of the other trivial things that kids do that get them into minor trouble. On the other hand, there was a kid in my son's high school class who managed to get himself expelled twice (he was eventually reinstated after the first offense) -- once for a drug violation and the second time for slashing tires in the teachers' parking lot. I do think colleges would want to hear about that.
  • northeastmomnortheastmom Posts: 12,379Registered User Senior Member
    I think that panhandlegal is right.
  • MomofWildChildMomofWildChild Posts: 17,027Registered User Senior Member
    My son had a suspension and an expulsion-not violence or substance related and was told by a number of highly selective schools that it would have no negative impact on his application due to his explanation and his "growth" from the incident. He was accepted to his ED Ivy and EA UChicago. It really depends. Criminal issues are a different story, but I can assure you that suspensions for minor incidents (or even major like my son's case) can be overcome with the right approach. Even alcohol violations are generally not a problem unless there was harm to others.
  • MotherOfTwoMotherOfTwo Posts: 2,110Registered User Senior Member
    I am not an expert on this at all but the article says this question is new for this year's applicants, so experience in past years may be different. I am not sure the newspaper story is entirely accurate about the detentions. I have copied the information on the Common Application website about the Discipline Question below, so we can all see exactly what it actually is.




    WHAT IS THE WORDING OF THE NEW COMMON APPLICATION DISCIPLINE QUESTION?
    This "Discipline Question" will appear on the Application form for students to complete:

    1. Have you ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at any secondary school you have attended, whether related to academic misconduct or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in your probation, suspension, removal, dismissal or expulsion from the institution? YES / NO

    2. Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, or other crime? YES / NO

    If you answered yes to either or both questions, please attach a sheet of paper that gives the approximate date of each incident and explains the circumstances.
    I authorize all secondary schools I've attended to release all requested records and authorize review of my application for the admission process indicated on this form. [student signature]
    This "Discipline Question" will appear on the School Report form for counselors to complete:

    I authorize all secondary schools I've attended to release all requested records and authorize review of my application for the admission process indicated on this form. [student signature]
    1. Has the applicant ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at your school, whether related to academic misconduct or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in the applicant's probation, suspension, removal, dismissal or expulsion from your institution? YES / NO

    2. To your knowledge, has the applicant ever been convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, or other crime? YES / NO

    If you answered yes to either or both questions, please attach a separate sheet of paper or use your written recommendation to give the approximate date of each incident and explain the circumstances.




    And here is further info from the website:

    “Discipline Question” FAQ



    Why was a “discipline question” added to the Common Application?

    We survey our members annually, and in recent years the inclusion of a discipline question has been the single most requested addition to the Common Application.


    Did any members object to its inclusion?

    We surveyed the full membership on their views regarding such a question. Of our 276 members last year (all of which responded), only 10 (4%) objected. We then contacted those 10 members to discuss their specific concerns as we drafted the language.


    How was the language drafted?

    We asked those of our members currently using a discipline question to forward the language they use to us. We then attempted to take the best of each as we crafted our own question. We distributed some preliminary drafts to the membership before settling on the final language.


    Did legal counsel review the language?

    Yes, our attorney did a thorough review of the language we chose. In addition, a number of other attorneys representing Board member institutions also reviewed the language. We made additional edits based on their counsel.


    Were secondary counselors included in the discussion?

    Four of the Board’s 13 members are secondary counselors (public and private), and three of the four members on the committee drafting the question’s language were secondary counselors.


    What if I, as a secondary counselor, would prefer not to answer the question?

    As with any question on a college admission application (the Common Application or otherwise), counselors are free to choose which questions they will and won’t answer (class rank being one notable example). At the same time, some of our members may decline to review the application without information they consider vital to their selection process. When such a conflict arises, it must be resolved directly between an admission office and a counseling office. Please note that applicants using the Common Application have agreed to allow their secondary school to answer the discipline question (see bottom of application page 4). Please also note that counselors have the option to request that admission officers call them to discuss the student’s record over the phone.


    How has this question been publicized to the counseling community?

     October: Announced the inclusion of a discipline question for 06-07 (NACAC listserv).
     January: Announced the specific discipline question language (NACAC listserv).
     March: Posted the question on our website.
     May: Distributed annual counselor newsletter detailing changes for 06-07 (USPS and NACAC listserv).
     July: Distributed new print application shipments with discipline question announcement flyer enclosed.
     October: Will post a reminder in the NASSP NewsLeader for secondary school principals.
     October: Have scheduled a counselor Q&A for Saturday morning at 11am during the NACAC conference.
  • lefthandofdoglefthandofdog Posts: 1,331Registered User Senior Member
    Look at it from another angle - if your kid was rooming with a student who had a history of violence against other people and your child then became a victim, wouldn't you want colleges to screen for criminal records? It's not the same thing as an 18 year old finding a roommate on Craig's list; we all assume that the school has taken care in admitting and then in choosing roommates.

    I have no problem with a question about criminal records (and I think that's different from school discipline). If you have to answer that to work at WalMart, shouldn't Harvard take as much care? Does anyone else remember the news story a few years back about the girl who was admitted to Harvard undergrad and then had admission rescinded because she lied on her application. It was a bit tricky. The story was that she aided her boyfriend when he killed her abusive mother. She actually wrote her essay about her difficult childhood (I think the mom was alcoholic) but apparently left off the last paragraph where she revealed how she dealt with the problem (enlisting boyfriend to commit murder). The tricky part was the basis for the rescision - it wasn't that she'd been adjudicated in the case, it was that something was not truthful on her application. I think she was then admitted to Tufts and enrolled. I think her first name was Gina. Anyone else remember this?
  • lefthandofdoglefthandofdog Posts: 1,331Registered User Senior Member
    I can also see how schools would disregard a lot of the information once they hear the story and in the case of a student who was caught between two battling parents, it might even shed some light on why they'd had difficulties or make their successes even more impressive.

    For the small number of uber-selective schools, why not use behavior as a way to separate equally qualified candidates? It's a bit scary to think that heavy handed disciplinarians can have that far a reach on a student's future, but I think the reality is that they always have had that kind of power. Like the letter of reference example, where an employer merely confirms someone was employed, dates, etc., it's not too hard to read between those lines and see they have nothing positive to say. Who would be afraid of being sued if they had positive things to say?
  • ChedvaChedva Posts: 19,268Super Moderator Senior Member
    that resulted in the applicant's probation, suspension, removal, dismissal or expulsion from your institution?

    Since this question was reviewed by the legal staff, I'll put my lawyer's hat on and say that it does not include detentions. Basic legal interpretation holds anything not specifically included, or included by general words like "such as" or "similar to" is excluded from the question. Since the question enumerates the specific disciplinary actions they are interested in, I would argue that anything else is excluded. (In-school suspensions are trickier, since "suspension" is included in the list, and that could mean suspensions of any type.)
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Posts: 24,853Registered User Senior Member
    I'm sure that no one here wants their kid roomming or living down the hall from a murderer, rapist, armed robber, batterer or thief. That's the point of those checks, and I'm glad that colleges are considering applicants' criminal backgrounds.

    From the story: "In North Carolina, additional precautions have been implemented since students with rape and larceny convictions committed two unrelated murders at the state university in Wilmington in 2004.

    In addition to being asked about their pasts, applicants to the University of North Carolina's 16 campuses are checked against a national database of suspended or expelled college students. Those who trigger suspicion are investigated, Leslie Winner, general counsel for the 200,000-student system, said. As a result, 84 applicants were denied entry last fall.

    Schools generally ask for a letter of explanation and consult counselors and others when a problem is reported. Though juvenile records are sealed, colleges can run criminal background checks on those 18 or older.

    "There's really no need for a university to take a risk," said Joan McDonald, vice president of enrollment at Drexel University, where no more than 10 applicants a year report misdeeds. Serious offenders aren't invited to join the school's 5,000 or so incoming freshmen....

    "We look at it on a case-by-case basis," said Mark Lapreziosa, associate vice president of enrollment at Arcadia University, which uses the Common Application and which may revise its own form.

    "We look for students showing growth or having learned" from their mistakes, he said.

    So far only two students have disclosed arrests, one for drugs and the other theft. They never completed their applications, but options Arcadia considered were requiring them to live off-campus and to keep in close contact with administrators.

    'If it was a crime of violence we would have to think seriously,' Lapreziosa said."
  • PanhandlegalPanhandlegal Posts: 548Registered User Member
    Chedva--and others--where does this leave a GC who shares the fact that a student was suspended for a fight? Let's say this was a 'minor' fight, no injuries involved, but in violation of school policy and student was suspended for the the requisite 3 days. Let's go on to say that a very good LAC opts out on this very good student who has excellent stats and is a definite match for this school. Is this a source for potential litigation??
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.