Many Pennsylvania colleges have a section on the application that asks about your criminal history. Some include your juvenile history as well. This a controversial section for many people who feel it is not fair to ask about criminal history. The U.S. Department of Education seems to agree as it is trying to push colleges to get rid of the criminalhistory section and ask alternative questions instead.
It feels this is a barrier to entry that could discriminate against certain groups of students. It also believes it removes the chance of getting a higher education from people who could use it the most. It also tends to allow schools to avoid looking at the whole student and instead basing decisions on one minor part of the application.
The overall feeling is that it holds down students who are already at a disadvantage. It prevents them from bettering themselves through an education, which is something that is not fair at all. Denying someone a chance at an education is denying them the chance for a fulfilling and successful future.
Asking such questions on a college application may even deter some students from applying. They do not even know if they will receive a denial, but they do not want to go through the humiliation since they know their criminal past will be a factor in the decision.
Boiling down an application to just criminal history also discounts all the other attributes a student has. A mistake in the past should not define a person. Colleges could be missing out on extraordinary students who happen to have a criminal charge in their past that they learned from. This information is for education and is not legal advice.