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Most colleges consider applicants' criminal past

Two-thirds of colleges consider the criminal histories of their applicants, according to a survey presented Wednesday to an industry group and reported in both the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.

The survey, conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, speaks to an issue raised by University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III following the death of senior Yeardley Love. Fellow senior George Huguely, charged in the slaying, acquired a criminal record in a police altercation during his time at the university, but U-Va. officials never learned of it.

Casteen said the case exposed gaps in the school's relationship with law enforcement and that he would like to begin checking students against a statewide criminal database.

Many colleges already screen applicants in some manner. The survey found private and four-year colleges were more likely to check criminal records than public or two-year colleges.

But only a few colleges said they used criminal background checks. Most relied on "self-disclosure" questions on applications. Students answering those questions can choose, of course, whether to disclose an arrest. Huguely was required by U-Va. rules to disclose his arrest but did not.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  July 1, 2010; 9:37 AM ET
Categories:  Administration , Admissions , Crime , Public policy  | Tags: AACRAO survey, UVA lacrosse, Yeardley Love, applicant criminal records, college background checks, student background checks  
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