The United States comes in first place for the world’s highest prison-population rate. A criminal history brings about various consequences. People lose their jobs, run into financial hardships and can sometimes get stuck in a vicious cycle. Students are no exception to the statistic, or the issues a tainted record can cause.

Unfortunately, many colleges in the country use an application process that essentially singles out applicants with a criminal past. Not only does this impact a student’s chance of pursuing a higher education, but it stifles growth for the generations to come.

Recently, the nonprofit organization behind Common Application announced that it will no longer ask about criminal history in the forms. This change could mean a breakthrough for students with misdemeanors or felonies. Every year, more than 1 million aspiring undergraduates apply to schools using Common App. Additionally, more than 830 institutions worldwide use it.

Second chances not guaranteed

Despite nationwide fights against biases, people with criminal records continue to get the short end of the stick. Young individuals who are neither white or wealthy take the brunt of it, as they are more likely to be targeted and receive harsher sentences.

While Common Application cuts out questions about criminal history, schools can still access that information through other resources. Therefore, a criminal background could still show up as problematic.

Both prospective college students and current college students deserve a chance to pursue a higher education. If you are facing charges, the results can be life-altering. You have the right to protect your future. The consequences of a criminal record are too steep to ignore.