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How Can a DWI/DUI Conviction Impact College Admissions?

College admissions are more competitive than ever. Students are doing more extracurricular activities and volunteer work to make their resumes look good for college admissions officers.

When a high school student makes a mistake and faces DWI charges, they may be concerned about how the arrest or criminal history may affect their college admissions plans. Does a DWI charge or conviction ruin a person's college application chance? The answer depends on the specific factors in that person's case.

Should I Disclose the DWI?

There may be better strategies if you were considering not mentioning the DWI conviction. You must disclose if you were asked about a DWI conviction on a college application. Lying on a college application can lead to an immediate refusal if the DWI is discovered before admission. You could be expelled if your DWI conviction is found after you are admitted and the college discovers you lied on your application.

Even if you have made it through four years of college and received your degree and the college finds out later, your degree could be rescinded. It does not pay to lie on college admissions paperwork or interviews, especially since a DWI will not always lead you to rejection. However, if the college application does not ask you about prior arrests or convictions, you are not under an obligation to mention your arrest or conviction.

What If I am Rejected for a DWI Charge?

DWI convictions generally fall into two categories of severity — misdemeanor and felony. The majority of DWI convictions are considered misdemeanors. If you are a first-time offender and have been convicted of a one-time misdemeanor DWI, the DWI will probably not be why your college application is denied.

During your in-person interview, if you have one, you may want to be proactive and make the case that you have learned from your past mistakes and changed your behavior. The more specific you can be about changing your behavior to prevent another DWI, the better. If you have been convicted of a felony DWI, applying for and being accepted to college can be more difficult.

Additionally, if you have multiple DWI charges, your record could raise red flags to admission officers, even if the charges are not felonies. Professional schools, such as law, medical, and veterinary, can be more competitive and may have more stringent requirements. Some private schools also have higher standards for admission and may look down on a DWI conviction.

How Will a DWI Conviction Affect My Financial Aid Opportunities?

For many families, financial aid is crucial to helping their children go to college. While it is true that some federal student aid programs may withhold financial assistance from people who have been convicted of a DWI or other crimes, not all of them do so. It also matters whether your conviction is a misdemeanor or felony.

A student who has been convicted of a felony may not be eligible for most federal student aid programs. However, other sources of financial aid are available, such as scholarships from colleges, universities, private foundations, or institutions. These entities may have their own rules and may not even inquire about your criminal history on the scholarship application when you apply for them.

The Takeaway

As you can see, whether or not a DWI conviction will hurt your chances of going to college depends on your unique situation and the college application process. It is vital that you do not hide your DWI. If the application asks about your criminal history or an interviewer does the same, you should tell the truth and be upfront about the DWI. Hiding your conviction could result in you being expelled later.

Do not be afraid to state how you have changed and the lessons you have learned from your conviction. You may want to consider volunteering and taking other practical steps to show that you have changed. Admissions officers like to see personal growth. Colleges are in the business of finding applicants with good character, and if you have done the work, there is a chance you could still be admitted.

Charged With a DWI in Charlotte? We Can Help

If you are currently in the process of applying to colleges and have been charged with a DWI, it can be a daunting and stressful situation. However, it's essential to know that all hope is not lost. The best course of action to protect your future and opportunities for higher education is to seek the help of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney. Don't wait any longer to take action. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule a free case evaluation and find out how they can assist you.