But That Shouldn’t Scare You If You’re Smart Online
We hear it every year: College admissions officers are checking out applicants’ social media profiles and it can affect how they’re viewed – especially if there’s anything particularly egregious out there. The latest Kaplan survey of college admissions officers found that almost 70% of them think that looking at social media is “fair game” in the admissions process.
But just because a majority of college admissions officers think it’s within their bounds to check out students’ social media profiles doesn’t mean they’re all doing it. In fact, the Kaplan survey found that only 29% of college admissions officers report actually looking up students online. So what does that mean for college bound students?
The Odds Are In Your Favor – Until They’re Not
Only about a third of admissions officers report looking at applicants’ social media, and, according to Inside Higher Ed’s survey of admissions officers, it’s more likely that officials at a private college are going to look at applicants’ social media. So if you’re applying to a number of private colleges and universities, the chances of your social media coming up in the admissions process are a little higher. However, that doesn’t mean that if you’re applying to all public colleges or universities you’re home free.
What’s important to remember is that the likelihood of an admissions officer doing a deep dive on your social media profiles is slim – but not impossible. When it comes to social media – even things that you think are being shared privately – always err on the side of caution. You never know who is watching, and behaving badly online – even if it’s just one error in judgment – can have serious consequences for your college chances.
Embrace Spring Cleaning
Most of the students applying to college these days have lived a significant portion of their lives online. They’ve never known a world without the Internet, and Facebook has been around as long as most high school freshmen. Chances are students have been posting online since they were old enough to create social media accounts, and the judgment of a 13 year old is very different than that of an 18 year old.
It’s smart for students to do some periodic online “spring cleaning” by going through their profiles and removing any questionable content or posts and evaluating their privacy settings. Also evaluate how you’re using your social media. Do your profiles represent who you are? Do you hide behind a fake name or finstagram account? Don’t forget: Colleges will follow up on any anonymous tips about bad behavior online, so just because you have a private finsta or Snapchat without your real name doesn’t mean someone can’t take screenshots or recordings of your posts without your knowledge.
If you’re starting your college prep, it might be a good idea to finally get rid of those fake accounts and use your social media to learn more about colleges and build a portfolio of your interests and accomplishments.
Social media is constantly evolving, and so is the approach and that both students and college admissions officers have to take when determining how it will affect their college admissions experience. Chances are, as social media becomes more normalized, the impact it plays in the admissions process will be more significant outside of just seeing what students are doing when they think no one is looking. Until we see more cases of social media having a positive impact on the admissions process – rather than just stories of students’ bad behavior online – it’s smart for students to always think twice before they post and be mindful of how what they say now can impact their future college goals. If you have questions about social media use and the affects on college admissions, contact our online college counseling service.