State School Applications Are Changing

by Mallory Carlson ’19

On January 12, Maryland became the second state in the nation (the first being Louisiana) to pass legislation that will prohibit colleges in the state to ask applicants about their criminal history. The House of Delegates overrode a 2017 veto by Governor Larry Hogan, and the bill responds to progressive advocacy groups’ priorities that having the question on college applications disqualifies some potential students and scares away others.

The bill expands Maryland’s efforts for criminal justice system reform, as both public and private colleges will no longer be able to inquire about criminal convictions on their applications, provided that they do not use third-party application systems, like the Common Application. The bill will mandate that those colleges that use the Common Application include a notification somewhere on their website that information provided about criminal history will not bar applicants from being accepted.

According to democratic senator Joan Carter Conway, the bill is designed to provide an avenue to those with criminal records who are trying to make a change and better their lives, specifically by earning a degree that will help them find work in the future.