This post continues this discussion of the topic of college background checks in Oklahoma. This blog post will examine the question of whether Colleges in Oklahoma conduct background checks on the students who apply to attend.

This topic is more important and relevant than ever to most students today. Why is that? Because more students today have criminal records than ever before.

Time Magazine examined on study in the journal of Pediatrics that stated approximately 1 in 3 Americans are arrested by age 23.[1]  If you are 23 or younger, that means one-third of your peers have been arrested! There is a good chance that you have been arrested. And considering Oklahoma’s reputation for being “tough on crime,” you can expect that those figures are even higher in our state.

But does the fact that you’ve been arrested or have a criminal record affect your ability to get accepted into college? Let’s examine that question.

According to the New York Times, two-thirds of the nation’s colleges ask about criminal history in applications.[2]  But what about the colleges specifically in Oklahoma? Here is what you need to know.

Both Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State perform background checks on student applicants

The State’s two largest colleges, OU and OSU, screen incoming students for criminal records and arrests. A felony conviction is generally enough to bar a student from attending altogether. If the applicant does have a felony conviction, the student must go through an additional process.

Oklahoma State University states that “Prospective students who have felony criminal history, have been suspended or expelled from a previous institution, or are required to register with local law enforcement are required to be cleared by Student Conduct Education and Administration (SCEA) before admission can be considered under normal academic criteria.”[3]

OU is one of three programs in the Big 12 that conducts background checks on students.[4] The Big 12 conference implemented a “serious misconduct” policy in 2016 that applied to all member universities.

Whether you are an athlete or just a regular student looking to get a college education, you will likely have your background reviewed for any criminal history during the admissions process.

Felony convictions are an automatic red flag. But what about minor offenses or simple run-ins wth the law that didn’t result in a court case? The universities do not disclose what criteria they use to compare you among other students. All that we know is that they will find out about your arrest record and any criminal cases. And they are free to deny you enrollment as they see fit.

Students enrolling in Nursing or Clinical Programs in Oklahoma will be screened for criminal records

The stakes are raised for students who plan to go into nursing and all related fields that involve rendering care to patients. If this is you, you will most certainly been screened, probably multiple times. First, when you initially enroll into the nursing or therapy program; and again when you apply for internships or clinical programs.

Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) conducts criminal background checks on all students applying for clinical programs involving: Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Physical Therapist Assistant, Speech-Language Pathology Assistant, Paramedic, and Respiratory Care.[5] This requirement is explicitly stated on their website. The explanation given by OCCC is that “due to clinical agency requirements,the Division of Health Professions requires an extensive nationwide Background Report.”

Similar requirements occur for students at Rose State in Radiologic Technology[6], Respiratory therapy[7], dental assisting[8] and other clinical programs. The Clinical Affiliates (the hospitals, clinics, etc) that work with the students require background checks and drug testing. Those applying for a job at Rose State College may also be subject to OSBI background seach and/or drug testing. This may apply to student jobs as well.

So now you know. If you plan to go to college, expect to have a bunch of faculty and staff comb over your personal history. With college being as competitive as it is now-a-days – more people than ever are applying to college – expect to have the admissions team immediately start dividing up applications into categories of students with criminal/arrest records and students without.

It is not all doom and gloom, however. There are steps you can take to prevent the school from accessing your record.

In our next article, I will explain what students can do to take control over their Oklahoma criminal records.

References:

[1] Szalavitz, Maia. Study: 1 in 3 Americans Arrested By Age 23. Time Magazine, December 19, 2011. Retrieved online April 21, 2018: http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/19/study-1-in-3-american-youth-are-arrested-by-age-23/

[2] Rosenberg, Tina.  Have You Ever Been Arrested? Check Here. May 24, 2016. Retrieved online April 21, 2018: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/24/opinion/have-you-ever-been-arrested-check-here.html

[3] https://studentconduct.okstate.edu/clearance

[4] Pryor, Brooke. Oklahoma works to fine-tune background check system. NewsOK. Retreived 04/21/2018: http://newsok.com/article/5536058

[5] Recruitment and Admissions. Retreived online 04/21/2018: http://www.occc.edu/catalog/2016-2017/regulatory/admissions/recruitment-and-admissions.html

[6] https://www.rose.edu/content/academics/academic-divisions/health-sciences/radiologic-technology-program/admission/

[7] https://www.rose.edu/content/academics/academic-divisions/health-sciences/respiratory-therapist/admission-and-application/

[8] https://www.rose.edu/content/academics/academic-divisions/health-sciences/dental-assisting/faq/

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