College is a time of learning and personal growth, and for many people, it is a time of experimentation and exploration as well. Part of how people grow and mature during their college years stems from the mistakes they make, such as drinking too much or learning about how hangovers affect their life the day after a big party.
Unfortunately for college students who want to experiment with drugs, whether they are banned substances or prescription medications that students use recreationally, getting caught in possession of controlled substances can have a drastic, negative impact on their education.
Drug charges could impact your enrollment itself
To make the college experience as safe and as welcoming as possible, most universities and colleges try to limit their pool of students to those who are safe and committed to their own education. Criminal convictions can be cause for review by a disciplinary board, they could restrict your enrollment or even expel you from college over a drug offense.
Additionally, if you live in student housing, even if you don’t lose your enrollment status, you may no longer have the right to live on campus after pleading guilty or getting convicted, resulting in both the stress of a commute and the additional expense of off-campus housing.
Criminal convictions can affect your student aid
Many college students have to pay for their studies through a combination of different resources, including student loans, work-study programs, private scholarships, and state or school scholarship programs. Both private and school-based scholarship programs typically have rules regarding the behavior and performance of scholarship recipients, maintaining a certain GPA and avoiding criminal charges will likely be among those rules.
Even if you avoid the loss of private and school-funded scholarships, you will likely have to find alternative funding sources for any government-related student aid, including work-study arrangements and subsidized student loans. There is a zero-tolerance policy for drug convictions among student aid recipients at the federal level.
Your conviction will haunt you and impact your career
Drug charges carry substantial social stigma, and many employers expect you to pass both a drug test and a background check prior to employment. Your conviction could mean struggling to find work indefinitely.
Anyone enrolled in college who finds themselves facing drug charges would be wise to consider the secondary consequences of a conviction and look at their opportunities to defend themselves.