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Social Media - Think Before You Post

Social Media—Think Before You Post

social media & colleges Dec 05, 2021

Stories abound of students and even teachers sharing inappropriate items on social media. You would think students who are about to apply to colleges and be evaluated by admission officers would know better. The truth is that the vast majority of high school students are very responsible about their social media presence, but we only hear about the foolish ones whose mistakes live on as lessons for others.

Applicants often want to know if colleges are fishing in the social media waters. Are colleges and universities proactively seeking out information on prospective applicants or not?

Research from Kaplan Test Prep, who surveyed over 300 admission officers, found that the percentage of admission officers who think it is ok to visit applicants’ social media pages to learn more about them has hit a record high of 65%.  This percental is up significantly from when Kaplan first explored this issue. Further research also showed that only 17 % of admission officers do it “often.” Googling an applicant to learn more about them has remained relatively stable over the past two years, at 36%.

Why are colleges looking? It’s interesting to note that both positive and negative factors trigger admission officers to look beyond the traditional elements of the application (GPA, standardized test scores, extracurriculars) and turn to students’ Facebook or Google accounts.

Special talents - Students who are musicians, writers, models, or poets will often invite admission officers to view their social media presence in their applications.

Award verification - There is no formal “fact-checking” process when students submit their applications. Colleges generally take whatever honors students list at face value and the time commitments and leadership roles students state in their extracurricular activities and work experiences. However, a mention of a particularly distinguished award will sometimes trigger a search.

Negative stuff - Some admission officers say that if an applicant mentions that they have a criminal background or a record of disciplinary action, they will do some online digging to get more details.

Scholarship applications - Students applying for special scholarships can come under greater scrutiny.  Schools want to ensure those receiving the scholarships are fully deserving; extra due diligence can come from online checking.

The worst reason a student’s social media presence may be viewed is referred to as “Admissions Sabotage.” The ugly truth is that colleges’ admission officers are occasionally anonymously alerted to social media postings by students or parents trying to sabotage another student’s chance of being accepted. Admission officers will typically follow up to verify any accusations.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

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