Here at ClearanceJobs we regularly get questions from individuals wondering if an indiscretion or two (i.e. – occasional drug use in college, a misdemeanor offense, or delinquent credit card debt) will hinder them in receiving a security clearance. The answer is generally “it depends.” Factors include time elapsed since the incident, efforts to control or handle the problem and an individual’s behavior since. Because time elapsed since an error in judgement is such a critical factor, college students with youthful indiscretions may be in particular trouble. A clearance investigator is unlikely to consider your habitual marijuana use in college to be negated by the fact that you stopped after the spring semester – a few months before applying for a position with the State Department and needing to obtain a clearance.
Fortunately for many Maryland students, there’s Project SCOPE. With the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) bringing tens of thousands of jobs to Maryland – and many of those jobs in fields requiring a security clearance – the Fort Meade Alliance, a local community organization, has stepped in to educate students on what they need to know about obtaining a clearance. The program is now offered across the state of Maryland and brings together parents, students, teachers and local business leaders to encourage young people to make smart choices – and keep their future career in mind.
It demonstrates just how important a security clearance can be, and why it’s critical for young people to realize that drug use, significant debt or criminal activity aren’t just poor choices to make now, but could impact them in their career down the road.
Editor’s note: With one-in-five high school students reporting having abused prescription drugs, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, it’s increasingly important to remember that abusing medications, just because they’re legal, isn’t okay. Drug abuse is drug abuse.