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Education, job outlooks, and criminal records

  1. Jan 3, 2014 #1
    Here's the abridged version; I'm young, 18. I've recently found the true value of education and the amazing world of learning. Problem is, I may be too late. I want to pursue a degree in physics and eventually have a stable job and life. During my pre-17 years I accumulated 3 drug charges (possession of marijuana, 2oz<, class C misdemeanors) I also have a class A misd. for evading arrest (I was 16, I panicked, I had weed so I ran). Now, those are not visible to the public except for the government system. At 17 (tried as an adult in the state of Texas) I had gotten a DWI and 2 more class C possession of marijuana, a possession of paraphernalia, and about 4 or 5 traffic tickets. I've recently turned 18 and I am still in process with the courts for the DWI and I am on probation to try and keep the possession of marijuana conviction off my record. I am also working with my county court prosecutor in efforts to also keep the paraphernalia case off of my record. The other possession of marijuana (it is in conjunction with the DWI) has a high chance of being dropped because my lawyer said they are more interested in the DWI. The DWI is a misunderstanding. I was not drunk, I was 17 and I had half a beer before driving. I missed a stop sign because it was dark, partly hidden behind tree branches, and at the wrong moment I looked back to say something to my friends. My blood alcohol level was well under the legal limit but any detectable amount of alcohol in the system of a minor (under 21) is subject to DWI charges. Do I stand a chance of getting into a good school (UT Austin) and getting a good job with these on my record? If any of you physicists, engineers, etc, have a non violent criminal record, no felonies, are out there please respond to this. Any help and advice you guys give me is greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2014 #2


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    So I would like to start off by writing making excuses about your DWI charge is silly. You did commit a DWI; you were underage and had alcohol in your system. That is a DWI, not I missed a stop sign because it was dark. Getting behind the wheel of an automobile after having anything to drink is incredibly stupid. Realize this, accept it, and learn.

    Other than that, I don’t see why you’d have any problems getting into a school as long as you have a decent GPA and adequate test scores from high school. If you don't, going to a CC than transferring is the next best thing for you. Financial aid may be a pain if the government counts your drug charges against you, but it might only count for federal drug charges/felonies. I don't remember off the top of my head. You’ll have to google this.

    As for getting a job, as long you complete the same hurdles everyone else completes I doubt they’re going to care about DWI ten years from now. You still have to worry about finding a job, but not anymore I would reckon than your average PhD graduate for physics (should you get there.)

    Lay off the drugs and booze, college will tempt you much greater than high school ever did. This is your biggest obstacle to success.
  4. Jan 3, 2014 #3


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    You'll notice that in the entire post, not once did you describe your academic standing and capability. Without even considering your checkered background, we have no idea what kind of a student you are or if you have the ability to even do well at the basic level.

    How are we supposed to be able to guess if you'll do well academically when the ACADEMIC aspect of you is absent?

  5. Jan 3, 2014 #4
    Posting what type of student he is was relatively irrelevant to the question considering there is no such thing as "innate" physics ability. He likely wanted us to assume he would put forth whatever effort was required to succeed in the school if he ever got in.
    to the OP, charges like that wouldnt cause any problem with getting into a school, and like someone else said above me, if you have a phd and 10 years have passed since the charge its is unlikely it would be a major issue for future employers
  6. Jan 3, 2014 #5
    So are you saying a criminal record has no effect on an academic/professional future?

    Because that was the nature of his question.
  7. Jan 3, 2014 #6
    You're right, my apologies. Well, as a student I have always been ahead of my class apropiate peers. Since 3rd grade my reading level has always been 2 or more grade levels of my respective grade. Except 2nd grade, I was reading at a 3rd grade level. I also maintained a higher level of concept understanding when it comes to mathematics. I explicitly remember my teachers having a more advanced workbook than my classmates, as I would finish what took them 20-30min. in about 10min., I maintained this edge up until 7th grade where school had become too easy for me and I grew uninterested and started doing drugs, hanging out with my hoodrat friends, and skipping school. I mention these things because it shows I have a learning curve and proves I am capable of learning and understanding concepts rather quickly. I was good at whatever I applied myself to, and it even went as far as to local magnet schools wanting to recruit me and most (if not all) my teachers recommended to my parents I be enrolled in a G/T program. Although I have all but lost this edge due to the various drugs and chemical substances I abused over the course of 7 years, I still manage to be ahead of my class peers, if even slightly. This past semester I started community college and I have to say, I was still ahead of my classmates. I especially noticed this in my intro. sociology and comp. I english courses. Both professors singled me out as the "best" student in that class. Both professors read my papers, noticed my participation in class, and told me personally (and one, openly public) that I was a student that stood out from the rest. And both professors encouraged me to take their higher level courses this next semester and said they would like to have me in their courses. I have to admit that I did miss out on my science and math capabilities because like I said, I lost interest in school and blew off class and learning the material all throughout high school. But, I have self studied a little in both. While self-teaching I noticed I am lacking the foundation of the sciences and math I should have built through high school but I more or less usually understand the topics and if I don't, I take the initiative to look more into it to learn it better. As a student, I have to admit I am very dedicated and enjoy it very much. Everyday I would get to the campus as soon as the library opened and study or read for pleasure for about 2 hours and I would stay after school for about an hour and a half or two on most days to do the same. I have to say that most of my grades and understanding came from putting in that extra work and time into my studying habits. I don't want to boast or sound egotistical when I say I know I am smart. Like my ex gf told me, I'm not a bad person, I just make bad decisions, and thats what most of my teenage years have been.
  8. Jan 3, 2014 #7
    Student100: Thanks for your input ! And yeah, I guess you are right. I do tend to make excuses and I rarely catch myself doing that. I will definitely work on that.
  9. Jan 3, 2014 #8
    Jarfi, egavnov, Zapperz; Thank you all for your inputs !
  10. Jan 3, 2014 #9


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    Assuming one has the capability and applies oneself, one has a chance as long as one stays clean - i.e., no alcohol or illicit substances. It may take a few years, but there is the possibility.
  11. Jan 3, 2014 #10


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    You're still young (the age most students start college). Go for it man!
  12. Jan 3, 2014 #11


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    I made a lot of bad decisions in high school, too. Yet I managed to get through college with a BS in physics.

    Your biggest challenge is quitting drugs. Do you still use? You didn't mention it, which makes me suspicious. If you do, YOU MUST STOP. I'm not kidding, there is NO middle ground here.

    You have to reinvent yourself. Become a dork and love it! Get some dorky science friends.

    Your classes seem easy now, but you have to develop study habits because they won't always be so easy.

    What math and science classes are you taking now? Don't think that because you are smart or "passionate", that you can skip prerequisites - this is a recipe for disaster! Be patient with yourself; it takes time to learn math.

    And learn to write in paragraphs, for crying out loud :biggrin:.
  13. Jan 4, 2014 #12
    Astronuc and Physics_UG; thanks guys! For your inputs. Seriously. I appreciate it.

    Lisab: You guise are my dorky science friends now haha. Well yeah I guess so. Maybe I'll find some new ones that can lecture me on things they find interesting and instill that fascination in me. Or I'll just keep roaming PF (;
  14. Jan 4, 2014 #13


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    I'm not sure about the DUI, but in my experience many tech employers (in Silicon Valley at least) explicitly exclude minor marijuana-related offenses when asking the "have you ever been convicted of a crime" question.
  15. Jan 4, 2014 #14
    Because I see some of my old high school self in your posts, I feel I should share a bit of my own story.

    I went through some bad times in high school as well but was fortunate enough not to get any serious charges. My wakeup call was when I was 15 and got caught vandalizing an old hotel with my "hood rat" friends and some drugs were involved. I ended up getting off easy but it seriously scared me... I decided then that I needed to change and it took me until about the age of 18 to fully make the transformation.

    You need to distance yourself from people who will put you down about trying hard at school. This was the most important and hardest step for me. I'd been a skateboarder from the age of 7 and had always hung around "cool" older kids at the skatepark. This became my main friend network and my friends from school began to fade into the background. After my incident at 15 I stopped hanging out with my troublemaker skatepark friends (not all of them were) and only stayed in contact with the ones I knew were good. I began talking to kids at school I would have formerly considered nerdy, and they are my closest friends still today.

    Anyway long story short I was sparked by an old high school science teacher, and now I'm a junior physics major managing to make straight A's in college. I'm by no means perfect but I'm working to improve myself and that's what's important. So it's definitely possible to make a comeback.

    I realize I was not able to directly answer your questions but I hope this is at least useful. Send me a PM sometime if you'd like to talk more.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  16. Jan 4, 2014 #15
    Jbunni: Thanks for your input! Definitely makes me feel better to know that someone somewhere (esepcially sil. val.) excludes these charges.
    Jbrussel 93: Thank you for sharing your story! I'm glad you were able to turn your situation around. Hopefully I'll get to the same point you're at.
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