Pending Charge - Will I not get into college?

I am a rising senior, class of 2021 and as of today I started my Common Application. All was going well until I realized that each college asks about criminal charges or pending charges. Recently, my friend and I were caught with marijuana and nicotine devices. We were both 17 at the time, and we are scheduled for court in October. This is our first charge on anything like this. I am so terrified that I am not going to get into a good school. I am not a bad student, I would consider myself to be slightly above average. But I am scared that this charge (which was a city ordinance violation) will ruin my future. I know that I have to discuss in the application what the charge was and how I’ve grown from it, but I am so terrified that they will see I have a pending drug charge and automatically dismiss me from being considered for admission. If anyone has had similar experiences, I would appreciate it so much if you could tell me the story and how it worked out with college (I am specifically interested in Florida State University). I deeply regret the incident and I just really do hope this doesn’t completely ruin my chances at getting into a good school.

This is a great question – we recently covered this topic in a College Confidential article where you may find your answer in general, which you can find here:

Yes, you must report it. Take responsibility for your actions and include a mea culpa. After all, you would not want the college to hear about it in a letter of recommendation, or from a jealous classmate who didn’t accepted after you did. You certainly don’t want them to find out about it once you’ve enrolled, because they might kick you out (you keep the debt, but you don’t get the credits). Accepting responsibility and demonstrating you learned your lesson is the best way to mitigate the damage. Colleges understand there is such a thing as stupid mistakes, and they do appreciate maturity. Most people are inclined to forgive if one demonstrates they learned their lesson and express appropriate remorse.

Do you have to turn in applications before your court date? I would absolutely not lie but if the charges get dropped at your court date then maybe it doesn’t have to be reported? It depends on the language on the common app.

Do you have an attorney helping you with this? If so, I would talk to him/her about this situation.

But, if you have to report it, I agree that a one time stupid offense would likely be overlooked.

If it is first offense they may offer you some kind of diversion program that drops the charges and states you must not get in any trouble for a year or two (If you did, they then could charge you with the original charge as well as whatever the 2nd offense was). If they offer you this type of deal, then maybe you would not be lying if you said you had not been charged. You should get legal advice before reporting it on your applications.