Really, Do colleges do background checks? Keep reading to find out. It’s no secret that students are increasingly worried about their digital privacy. New data breaches and cyber-attack scandals seem to pop up every other day, and the college admission process has not escaped this scrutiny.
Students are concerned about what kinds of information colleges keep about them, how that information is used, and whether it’s a risk to submit an application with personal details such as email addresses, home addresses, and social media handles.
However, the demand for higher education remains strong, and the number of applicants to top schools continues to grow each year. So there’s no better time to think about where you might want to go to school and start your application process sooner rather than later.
To get you started on your college application process in preparation for next year’s intakes, we have compiled some useful information regarding background checks in tertiary institutions that you should know before filling out any forms or sending any documents. Keep reading to know more.
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What is a background check?
Before answering the question, which is, Do colleges do background checks? Let’s look at what background check means first.
A background check is an investigative report that a college uses to learn more about you and your past. It can include search results from public records, data from previous employment (if you’ve had a job), and any criminal activity that you may have been involved in.
The point of a background check is to inform decision-makers about the risk factors associated with your application and to determine the level of risk you pose to the campus and the people in it.
For example, if you have a history of disciplinary issues in school or run-ins with the law, or if you’ve had a job in a field that requires a special license, the college will likely want to know about it.
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Do colleges do background checks?
Do colleges do background checks? Absolutely yes, they do so before offering a student admission to their programs. There are several reasons why colleges do background checks on their students, but the biggest reason is to keep their students safe.
Colleges want to make sure that their students are not only academically prepared for their programs but also mentally prepared. To do this, colleges conduct background checks on all students to make sure that they do not pose any threat to other students.
Will colleges do a background check on me?
This depends on the college and the type of application that you are submitting. For in-state institutions, online applications typically don’t request any information about previous criminal activities or disciplinary records. Instead, in-state institutions usually only check on your academic record and progress through high school.
If you are applying for a scholarship, some private institutions may request a background check as part of the application process. You can expect to be asked to submit a detailed report of any previous criminal activities, disciplinary records, and any special licenses used in your field of employment.
Background Check Process
If a college decides to conduct a background check on you, they will likely have one of their third-party investigators conduct the research. Investigators will look into your academic history, searching for any disciplinary issues that may be recorded in your school records.
If you’ve worked before, investigators will search for any disciplinary records associated with your previous employers, as well as any special licenses you may have held. If you have ever had any run-ins with the law, investigators will search for records of any arrests, charges, and convictions associated with your name.
There are a few types of criminal records that a background check will not find. These include records from juvenile detention centers, sealed criminal records, and records that have been expunged. A background check will also not show you what other people are saying about you online.
For example, if you have posted photos of yourself on social media websites, an investigator may be able to find them, but they will not be able to see comments and posts that other people have added below those photos.
Should you be concerned about a college background check?
It depends on the type of background check and the information that the college has asked the investigator to search for. If the college has requested to search for criminal records, disciplinary records, and special licenses, you should be concerned.
Although many students are worried about their digital privacy, the good news is that you can request that the school not conduct a background check on you. Many students take this step to protect themselves from potential discrimination.
If you are worried that you may have a criminal record, you can always ask the investigator to only search for academic records. If you have a special license that the investigator may find, you may be able to explain why you have the license.
For example, if you have a commercial driver’s license, the investigator may be concerned because driving is an essential part of many college careers. You can explain that the license is due to a medical condition that prevents you from driving.
The downside of conducting a background check on applicants
While background checks are useful in evaluating the risk associated with an applicant, they are not perfect. They are only as good as the information that is collected and reported. If an applicant is dishonest or omits something, a background check won’t catch it. Background checks also take time, which means you have to start the process before you have a confirmed admission.
In addition to the time it takes for the college to collect information, the admission process is interrupted while the background check is underway. Depending on how quickly the background check is processed, this interruption can mean weeks or even months before you can get admitted.
Conclusion On Do Colleges Do Background Checks
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to share your personal information with colleges. If you are worried that your digital privacy might be at risk, you can request not to have a background check conducted. However, keep in mind that colleges may still ask you to submit detailed information about your academic and disciplinary records.