When you arrive at college, things can get a little overwhelming pretty fast. That’s why asking key questions and simple, straightforward information in a background search can help you make critical decisions about where you spend your time.
Starting as a new college student can come with many challenges. There are the lectures you’ve heard from your parents about how hard you’ll need to study. There’s the cost of classes, a pile of books you’re expected to read, and the discovery that you’ve chosen a roommate who eats Cheetos with their mouth open. Great.
Even so, once you wade through the initial stress, college can be a great time of discovery and growth. Your first exposure to the broad variety of activities available through college might be through a sidewalk fair or other event designed to introduce new students to the range of clubs on campus.
Maybe you’ve had years of experience with student government, and you can’t wait to jump in to support local campaigns. Or you were a good athlete in high school, and while colleges weren’t exactly clamoring for your talents, you’d still like to play in an intramural league. You might be simply looking for a book club or a group that trains together for foot races.
With all of the choices available, it’s likely that you won’t be able to do everything that interests you. A few questions may help you narrow it down:
Why a Background Search?
You might associate background searches with events like applying for a job, screening a potential roommate, or even checking on someone you’ve been dating. They can be useful for protecting yourself in a variety of situations.
A campus organization is no different. You may be engaging with a group that requires a lot of your time, cultivates new friendships, and even asks for your money. Wouldn’t you like to know that the leaders of the group are reputable and don’t have a history of misusing others’ money or improperly handling leadership roles? It will be easier to look objectively at the information before you form meaningful friendships with those in the group.
How to Conduct a Background Search
Start with Google and social media. One of the easiest places to start utilizes tools you’re already at ease with using. Conduct a Google search, and then poke around on Facebook and Instagram to see if what you find matches the way the person has presented themselves to you. Watch for discrepancies or signs that could be a red flag.
Check government records. You can conduct searches for state and local courthouse records that will tell you information about bankruptcies as well as any convictions. Make note that ongoing investigations will not be accessible through court documents.
Review registered sex offender records. Through the national database, you can enter your address and see the locations of all registered sex offenders in your geographic area. This is particularly important if you’re joining an organization that interacts with children or places you in a one-on-one situation with other volunteers.
Your background search not only protects you but also other college students that may not take the time to investigate an organization before joining. While you may choose not to make your findings public, the increased awareness among college students that they should do these kinds of checks before becoming a part of an organization benefits everyone.
College is a pretty short time of your life, and between studies and a potential job, you may discover that there’s not all that much time for spelunking, tie-dying, or playing intramural soccer. If you do decide to set aside some of your time for an organization, you want to make sure it’s being run by people you’re proud and excited to associate with on campus.
Feel confident in your decision to join a new organization.