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Committed a crime when I was 15, but learned a lot from it. Should I include as a top 10?


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Hi guys,

When I was 15 I was charged with committing a crime: Theft under $5000. I was caught shoplifting. I was young and immature and had unrealistic expectations of the world - but through the incident, I had a huge paradigm shift, and got focused on a career in medicine. I went through the Youth Criminal Justice Act and never got a criminal record but had to do community service etc. This is definitely one of my real TOP 10 Experiences - because I became a very different person after that. But I don't know about including this in my top 10s for my application on the count of being looked upon badly or giving off a bad first impression.

On one hand, I think talking about such an experience and how I have grown since could make me stand out from the thousands of other applicants in the pool who are exactly like me. On the other hand, it is a crime and people who do get criminal records have a lot of trouble finding jobs - so it may immediately get me thrown out of the list. 

What are your thoughts?

Pls. HALP

 

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MATURITY & INSIGHT  

I would not necessarily go into the detail you did here, rather refer to a situation you encountered as a 15 year old where you made a bad choice resulting in your involvement within the juvenile criminal justice system, this gave you a wake up call, caused you to self-reflect and re-evaluate your life and future and the maturity and insight you obtained gave you the motivation to work hard and to focus on what mattered to you, resulting in your path toward medicine. I would be happy to review your work product.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                        

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Like any other possible red flag, this is not something I would draw attention to or linger on, especially since it's no longer an active issue. What I suggest is focusing on everything positive that's happened since then. If you are specifically asked about any past criminal activity, don't hide it, but that's not the same thing as freely volunteering this information. At the end of the day it's your decision. If you strongly believe that this experience was truly pivotal in your motivation to pursue medicine, then go ahead and talk about it. I'm sure some people will look at this aspect of your story positively, however, I'm also certain there are others who will look for any reason to toss out an application, given the sheer number of them.

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I imagine that many staff in med school admission departments would see this as a learning experience and appreciate the impact it had on your life (I certainly would!), but I think there is also a very high chance that one or two people who review your application or interview you would see it as a red flag or be biased against you. 

For this reason, I would not include it because you don't want any reason for someone to hold it against you. I see it the same way as men wearing facial hair to an interview: in this day and age, most people wouldn't hold it against you, but there is a chance you could meet someone more old-fashioned who takes issue with it. 

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8 hours ago, Meridian said:

Personally I would not mention it at all in your application. Your file is reviewed by humans.  Humans all have different perspectives and would react differently.  You could have your file passed over and you will never know it occurred.

Doubtful. Most Canadian medical schools have very different review processes then simply one individual passing on a file on one small aspect of it.

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7 hours ago, Intrepid86 said:

Like any other possible red flag, this is not something I would draw attention to or linger on, especially since it's no longer an active issue. What I suggest is focusing on everything positive that's happened since then. If you are specifically asked about any past criminal activity, don't hide it, but that's not the same thing as freely volunteering this information. At the end of the day it's your decision. If you strongly believe that this experience was truly pivotal in your motivation to pursue medicine, then go ahead and talk about it. I'm sure some people will look at this aspect of your story positively, however, I'm also certain there are others who will look for any reason to toss out an application, given the sheer number of them.

i would hardly call a teenage incident a red flag.  If you explain in a mature and eloquent way why it was a big moment for you, that will show alot of insight and growth.  If OP feels that it was a really important defining factor for them, then I would include it. I would be careful of wording of course, but I wouldnt outright exclude it. 

It's not like something more nefarious like murder, gang violence or rape etc.

Realistically you could use the same logic for many things - I personally would roll my eyes at global health/volunteer abroad trips and many others share the same sentiment. As well, some sports involvements because they are really more so for well off suburbanites. It all varies. 

This notion of tossing applications is a very misleading thing. Most schools definitely do blinded reviews by multiple people, and even then sometimes the human aspects arent even looked at until post-interview.

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Ya, don't even consider mentioning this. People around here get too hung up sometimes on getting a "good story" of how you overcame circumstances.  Truly I can guarantee no one will be impressed you overcame this, and as others have mentioned it may disqualify you and you wont even know it.  To put it one was--if you have 100 great applicants of equal value, would you take the risk choosing the one with a "criminal past" (I get it its not a big deal but still), over someone without such a history?

 

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On ‎2017‎-‎08‎-‎25 at 7:11 PM, JohnGrisham said:

i would hardly call a teenage incident a red flag.  If you explain in a mature and eloquent way why it was a big moment for you, that will show alot of insight and growth.  If OP feels that it was a really important defining factor for them, then I would include it. I would be careful of wording of course, but I wouldnt outright exclude it.

It's not like something more nefarious like murder, gang violence or rape etc.

I'm going to respectfully disagree with this for two reasons. For an average applicant in their early to mid 20s, an incident from their teenage years isn't exactly a remote history of wrongdoing. Also, explaining it eloquently isn't going to change the fact that admissions processes are generally risk averse. If it comes down to the reformed shoplifter vs. someone who was never one, it's going to be difficult arguing for the former unless they were already a better candidate for other reasons to begin with.

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55 minutes ago, Intrepid86 said:

I'm going to respectfully disagree with this for two reasons. For an average applicant in their early to mid 20s, an incident from their teenage years isn't exactly a remote history of wrongdoing. Also, explaining it eloquently isn't going to change the fact that admissions processes (for basically anything) are generally risk averse. If it comes down to the reformed shoplifter vs. someone who was never one, it's going to be difficult arguing for the former unless they were already a better candidate for other reasons to begin with.

That is a fair point :) 

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On 8/25/2017 at 0:51 AM, bronza11 said:

Hi guys,

When I was 15 I was charged with committing a crime: Theft under $5000. I was caught shoplifting. I was young and immature and had unrealistic expectations of the world - but through the incident, I had a huge paradigm shift, and got focused on a career in medicine. I went through the Youth Criminal Justice Act and never got a criminal record but had to do community service etc. This is definitely one of my real TOP 10 Experiences - because I became a very different person after that. But I don't know about including this in my top 10s for my application on the count of being looked upon badly or giving off a bad first impression.

On one hand, I think talking about such an experience and how I have grown since could make me stand out from the thousands of other applicants in the pool who are exactly like me. On the other hand, it is a crime and people who do get criminal records have a lot of trouble finding jobs - so it may immediately get me thrown out of the list. 

What are your thoughts?

Pls. HALP

 

Don't do it, don't stand out in that way. One thing unfortunately you will learn in medicine is the head that sticks out gets lopped off (unless you are sticking out for a NEJM pub lol). The medical school admissions process is a time for putting your best foot forward, its just the unfortunate reality of things. 

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