Many bright Louisiana teens and young adults sometimes make dumb mistakes. They can, for instance, be caught drinking underage, and they may even get accused of drunk driving.

Other times, teenagers seeking thrills, such as shoplifting, reckless driving or doing destructive pranks, find out too late how seriously local authorities take such matters.

Sadly, many otherwise good kids wind up in a bad drug habit and could wind up facing charges of drug possession or even dealing.

In Louisiana, the age of majority is 18, so many young people who make these or other mistakes may find themselves staring down a criminal charge and the possibility of a conviction that can derail any college plans.

At least one expert acknowledges that many colleges and universities continue to reject applicants who have certain types of prior convictions.

In many other cases, the application process gets so much more complicated, and intrusive, if an applicant has a criminal record that many just give up on it, especially when there is a risk that the work will be for naught.

Furthermore, certain drug convictions prevent a student from receiving any federal financial aid, including student loans.

With college being an important stepping-stone in to a promising career, the bottom line is that even one criminal conviction can have a long-term impact

While public schools in Louisiana have been barred from asking about criminal history, private schools have no such ban. Moreover, many young people in this state would strongly prefer to attend schools in other states.