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Coming in late in the game, or should I stay out

  1. May 4, 2013 #1
    I have always wanted to get a college education in physics or quantumn mechanics or the like. I have been through the navy nuke program and I am intelligent. What holds me back is that I have made some bad choices and have a record now. I am wondering if I am wasting my time wanting to get an education because i fear that I will not be accepted. Is this a reasonable fear, or is acceptance based on your ability and work and not your legal record?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2013 #2
    I don't think it really matters. A science education whether formal through an academic institution or self-taught is a reward unto itself. What's the alternative, not learning science and going back to the "hood?" That option will always be there. Why not give academia a shot first. The obvious answer to your question is to find a program you like and then ask admissions (anonymously over the phone, of course:smile:) if your past is going to be a problem. And go from there.
  4. May 4, 2013 #3


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    All the jobs I applied for in industry and academia required background checks, and many required security clearances. It might indeed end up being a problem, especially if you're not legally allowed to work in schools or hospitals.
  5. May 4, 2013 #4
    I've never had to submit to a background check to register for classes at any stage of my education (community college, university or grad school). You will be denied some federal student aid if its a drug offence (but not if its murder of course... :rolleyes:)
    Last edited: May 4, 2013
  6. May 4, 2013 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    I seem to remember somebody saying here that when they applied to a college or university, they had to check a box indicating whether they had a criminal record, and then provide a brief explanation if the answer was "yes." If that's the case, it will be far worse to check "no" and they later find out about your record, than to check "yes" and be upfront about it.

    It's been so long since I applied to a university or for a job that I don't remember whether I had to do this.

    As previously noted, certain jobs require security clearances. I was once visited by an FBI agent checking up on a former student who had applied for a job at a goverment defense lab. Some kinds jobs are probably not available to convicted sex offenders. Etc.
  7. May 4, 2013 #6
    Many college apps have a checkbox asking if you have been convicted of a criminal act. If you answer yes, they ask you to explain the circumstances and essentially write a short essay about what you learned from it.
  8. May 5, 2013 #7
    There's an old saying "nothing beats a failure like a try" or something like that. I say if you really would like to do it. Apply and give it your all. Carefully consider your application essays and for your own protection, have an attorney look it over before you turn it in. Also be realistic with your goals, you may not be able to work for places which require a high security clearance, but you can learn things you would like to learn and I'm sure if you do well, you can find a decent job somewhere.
  9. May 5, 2013 #8
    I know all about security clearances, had one before. What I have on my record is possession of a controlled substance penalty group one less than one gram (state jail felony in Texas). I also have a couple of class c misdemeanors. I got in trouble in the navy and got an other than honorable discharge with a rec 4. I lost my seiop (clearance then). Finally got clean (well, reasonably-I'm on a maintenance program have been for two years). Trying to move on with my life and get back to what really matters which in my mind is the advancement of my own knowledge.
  10. May 5, 2013 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't think asking us will make much difference. You just have to apply to many more places, with the understanding that many will not want you on their campus after an OTH discharge and several convictions. There are liability issues, and in addition, it's not unreasonable for them to prefer applicants without your baggage. So you need to cast a wider net than you would otherwise.
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