Education is important for any individual in the current world. Without education, it might be difficult to navigate through life properly. One will hardly find fulfillment and meet basic needs. This is especially true for felons.
Felons are people who have been incarcerated for committing a felony. As a result, they might have had to spend a year or more in jail. The length usually depends on the severity of their offense.
Society is often skeptical about accepting felons back into the mix. For this reason, many felons wonder if they will ever achieve their dreams. One of these dreams may be getting an education.
They could not be farther from the truth. There are ample opportunities for felons to go back to school. Whether they possess a high school degree or not, they can still apply for higher education.
Many occupations are identified as the highest paying jobs for felons. Examples are online freelancing, entrepreneurship, marketing, and engineering, to name a few.
One does not need to possess a high school degree or a GED to enroll in college. There are non-traditional programs offered by many colleges.
One might still ask, “Will colleges accept felons?” Yes, many colleges accept felons. the range of fields is also quite diverse if our list of best degrees for felons is anything to go by.
Although they have the right to deny admission to ex-offenders, most rarely do so. Still, preparation is key when deciding to get an education as a felon.
Preparing to Go to College as A Felon
Deciding to pursue higher education is a great idea. For felons, it is advisable to consider certain things.
These important things include:
- Choice of degree
- Making college affordable
- The option of online learning
Also, they should know of certain privileges that may be withheld from them.
1 Degree Choice
The first thing felons should consider is their degree choice. This is pivotal to the career path they will be on. This is because felons have some limitations in this area.
For instance, some jobs require state licensing, such as nursing. Felons will be unable to get a state license.
As a result, it may be a waste of time to pursue a career in nursing. Notwithstanding, there are ways to be a nurse as a felon if one really wants to. Other programs to avoid include law, finance, and education.
There are a handful of online degrees that are great for felons. Some of these degrees have special advantages for someone who has gone through a few hardships in life and needs a fresh start. Two examples of such degrees include psychology and substance abuse counseling.
Felons can also study courses that would allow them to attain financial freedom. What is more, they could have creative indulgence. Examples of this kind of degrees include:
- Graphic design
There are other courses felons can go for. These include:
- Computer engineering
- Robotics engineering
- Building and construction
It is always best to consult an admissions advisor on such matters.
2 Mode of Learning
Campuses may be hostile to felons. Some of them (such as sex offenders) may not be accepted into these colleges. Because of this, many felons may have to consider distance learning.
This might seem like an unconventional method of completing a long college degree. Nonetheless, online learning can achieve similar results to campus learning.
People have obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees via distance learning. As it is, they have gone on to have thriving careers.
When it comes to college tuition, the first thing that should come to mind is affordability. Colleges are expensive. One can amass debt that will hang over them for life.
As a solution, felons can enroll in tuition-free colleges. These colleges offer great education and learning experience.
One common misconception is that felons are not eligible for financial aid. The truth is, felons have access to student financial aid. The catch is, this access is limited and conditional.
Will a felony affect FAFSA? Not necessarily. Felons must satisfy the following conditions to receive financial aid:
- The committed crime is not drug-related. In some cases, the authorities may require felons to complete an approved drug rehabilitation program.
- The felon was not convicted as a student
- The felon was a student during the time of conviction. But, they were not receiving financial aid at this time.
To determine eligibility for federal financial aid, felons need to fill and submit a form. This form is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
There are other grants and scholarships available to former offenders. Felons can apply for state grants, and aid from non-profits and philanthropic organizations. They can also apply to the U.S Department of labor.
Felons must be aware of the housing options they have in college. A lot of colleges may deny housing because of safety concerns. Reports show that the university environment does not become more dangerous if felons attend.
Still, many are wary of allowing felons to stay on campus. If they committed a violent crime or sex offense, they have very low chances of receiving campus accommodation. Felons should be prepared to live outside the campus, just in case.
Getting Accepted into College as A Felon
After deciding to get an education, felons still need to work on getting accepted. Things are different for them. There are some modifications they may need to make during their application process.
There are also a couple of things they have to prepare their minds for. They need to know what to expect, and how to handle them.
Drafting a transparent and persuasive admissions essay is paramount. It might not be necessary to include details of past crimes in an essay. Only do this if it specifically asks of it.
Also, it is important to express the desire to turn a new leaf. Recommendation letters also help. This could be written by a probation officer or therapist, for instance.
Interviews are usually a source of anxiety for ex-offenders. For interviews, honesty is always the best policy. Colleges usually ask if the applicant has any criminal background.
Over 60% of colleges include criminal history in their deciding making process during admissions. It is wise that the applicant is transparent throughout the entire process. Our past mistakes do not define us.
They can serve as lessons for our future. Felons must show that they are willing to grow and change. They must show that they have a lot to prove.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their goals in life. Education is a way felons can get back on their feet.
Sure, there will be a lot of obstacles on the road. Still, the mission is not impossible. Many colleges are receptive to felons.
There are plenty of online degrees that can lead to great career opportunities for felons. Examples include psychology, substance abuse counseling, and engineering.
Felons must adequately prepare themselves before embarking on this journey. They should consult an admissions advisor for guidance. Besides, they should not be afraid to explore financial aid options.
They must also be aware of what privileges they might not have access to. If they put in a good amount of effort, they can be enrolled. In time, they can complete their degree. It is never too late to achieve great career prospects, even as a felon.