A growing trend in college admissions is to find out if a prospective student has a criminal background. This has come about after increasing instances of campus violence, a number that have been highly publicized. In an effort to quell anxiety on the part of prospective students, parents and others, many colleges have begun to inquire into prospective students’ criminal pasts.


A 2010 study by the Center for Community Alternatives in collaboration with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) explored the use of criminal history screening in college admissions. It found that 66 percent of colleges that responded collect criminal justice information, and that these were more likely private schools and four-year schools.


Typically, a school uses one of two ways to find out if a prospective student has a criminal record: through self-disclosure (by far the most common method) and by using criminal background checks. The above study reported that colleges varied in what they did with the information they collected. Some used the information, others did not. Other than denied entrance, the most common restriction placed on students with criminal records is to prohibit them from living in campus housing.


Like most issues, there are those for and against using criminal background checks for students. Proponents believe that not admitting people with a history of violence and criminal activity will keep campuses safer. Those against claim that background checks or self-disclosure are barriers to higher education.


To read more about this issue, read our blog posted April 23, 2013, Research in the News: Does Asking College Applicants about Their Criminal History Reduce Campus Crime?


VerifyStudents is a product of Corporate Screening Services, an accredited nationwide background screening provider.