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Articles / Applying to College / Will Criminal Record Keep Prospective Student Out of Massage Therapy Program?

Will Criminal Record Keep Prospective Student Out of Massage Therapy Program?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Dec. 21, 2011

Question: I am interested in going to college to study massage therapy. I have met all the requirements, but they have to run a background check. I have been convicted of 7 misdemeanors: 4th degree theft, 4th degree trespassing, 4th degree disorderly conduct, 4th degree reckless driving with no insurance, 4th degree menacing, 4th degree internet harassment, and 3rd degree terrorist threatening. Will this keep me from getting in? I searched online and couldn't find much, but the college's brochure said you can't get in if you have been arrested or convicted of sex related charges. I don't have that those but I really need to know about my others. Thanks.

"The Dean" can't say for sure how your record will affect your admission at your target college. If the admission officials are concerned ONLY about sexually-based offenses, then it sounds like you're okay. But your overall record has so many "blemishes" that it could be a huge flag at decision time.

So here's what I suggest: If you feel that you can explain your past behavior and, above all, why you are ready to turn over a new leaf, you should send a supplementary letter to do so. For example, if your arrests came during a time that you were abusing drugs or alcohol but now you're sober, then you should say so. (Be as specific as possible. Include how long you've been sober and perhaps also include the type of therapy or support that you're getting to remain so.) If you were in a bad relationship that led to criminal behavior but you've ended that relationship, then you should explain this as well. Again, if possible, your letter should provide specific "evidence" of your new path. You should also provide recommendations that attest that you are ready to make this change. Letters from teachers, members of the clergy, social workers, psychologists, doctors, and even parole officers can have an impact on your admissions outcome.

Moreover, the amount of time between your last offense and your application might be significant. If any arrest took place within the past year, this could work against you a lot more than if there have been several years since your most recent arrest.

Note also that some states require a clean criminal record for all Licensed Massage Therapists. So this is something you should look into before spending money on your education. If your state requires this, then you may want to consider another career ... or a different state. I fear that, if you were to earn a massage degree and then find that you're unable to obtain a license, you'd end up falling prey to working in illegitimate "massage parlors" which might only mean more arrests.

I do hope that this helps and that you are able to reach your goals.

(posted 12/21/2011)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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