What Protesting Means for College Applicants

You're at an important juncture where being intentional about your choices now will have a big impact down the road
June 5, 2020

It's been a heavy week, with much to reflect on.

There are likely many things on your mind right now other than your college applications, but we wanted to send you a short note because you might be worried about how protesting could play a role in your college admissions this coming year.

Bottom line:

If you get cited, charged, or arrested for protesting or civil disobedience, we are confident that no decent college will hold that against you.

Some colleges have been saying so expressly. Swarthmore did so on Twitter here, for example.

But even the colleges that are slower to make that position clear are still mindful of this very important moment in history and the role of protesters and civil disobedience in bringing about real change in this country's history.

Your applications will require you to disclose a conviction, and sometimes also an arrest. If you are required to disclose, you'll also be required to explain the circumstances. You will have to tell that story in a specific place in your application, so you won't necessarily have to make this experience the topic of your personal essay as well unless you want to. Note that when we talk about protest and civil disobedience, we're not referring to looting or destruction of property. That's something else entirely. Don't do that.

Looking ahead:

You will always remember where you were at this moment in your lives, and you probably have many ideas about how to make the world better. Harness that inspiration, and use the coming summer to reflect on your hopes and goals. One way or another, your college education and college experience will shape them — and vice versa — so you're at an important juncture where being intentional about your choices now will have a big impact down the road.

It may be an open question for you right now whether you will be able to complete a full year of college next year or end up on a 5-year plan. You do what's right for you. Our two cents: Don't defer your start date if you don't know how you are going to make the next year count. It's true that you are young and you have many years ahead of you, but a year wasted is still a year wasted. Make the coming year count, whether you start college or decide to defer.

You inspire us, always. We know you will have an impact.

And because it needs to be said:

Black lives matter.

Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

the word.