Applying to College? Keep in mind that what you post online is public record – NBC Boston
cIf you are applying for college, you may have polished up your essays and submissions. It’s also a good idea to clean up your online profiles.
“If I was a student applying to college, I would assume someone could view my profiles,” said Christine Lilley, director of K-12 institutional partnerships at Kaplan.
The company has inside information about what college admissions officers think, and social media remains a wild card.
“Our survey found that 66% of college admissions officers believe that online profiles, social media, Facebook, etc., are fair game,” Lilley said.
Kaplan’s survey of college admissions officers has tracked the role of social media in the college admissions process since 2008. Last year’s survey of more than 200 admissions officers from some of the best schools in the country revealed that 27% of them visit candidates’ social media profiles to find out more about them.
Of those who viewed these profiles, 38% say what they found had a positive impact on future students, and 58% said what they found had a negative impact.
“When you post things on social media, you know, just keep in mind that it’s a public record,” Lilley said. “Not only can college admissions officers see it, but prospective…employers can see the information you post. So just be aware and aware.”
According to the survey, only 6% of admissions officers who have checked an applicant’s social media footprint say they do so often.
Elizabeth Heaton, a former UPenn admissions officer who is now with Bright Horizons College Coach, says she doesn’t think this is common practice.
“There are schools where they have more time to spend on the app,” Heaton said. “So generally, the more selective you are, the more time they’re going to spend on each application. And those are more likely to be the places, I think…that could Google a student and see what pops up.”
She added that luck could come into play.
“Some schools have a policy of random checks, so they may take a bunch of names and Google those students just to see if there’s anything coming up that’s somewhat disreputable,” Heaton said.
She recommends that students google themselves, take a critical look at their social media platforms, and get rid of anything they wouldn’t include in their application.
They should also not let their guard down once they are accepted.
In 2017, Harvard revoked the offers of admission of at least 10 incoming students who participated in an offensive Facebook group. It was not an isolated incident.
“We hear these stories every year, where students go to accepted student councils and post inappropriately,” Heaton said. “This is happening at colleges across the country where students do things after admission that come to the attention of the admissions office that can result in, at the very least…a student starting on probation or even having, if it’s particularly egregious, having the offer rescinded altogether.”
Students can and should use social media to their advantage in the college application process. They may want to create a LinkedIn profile where they can highlight major accomplishments that may relate to a future career interest or skill, and provide a link to the profile as part of their application.