College Admissions and Students’ Online Behavior

July 24, 2013
July 24, 2013 ACS

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. High school students are no strangers to the modern technology of posting a plethora of things about their lives. But how many admissions officers are actually using the internet to screen applicants? And, what specific social media behavior affects a student’s admission to the college of his or her choice?

In a recent article by Lauren Hass, she says that according to Kaplan Test Prep, colleges are “increasingly discovering information on Facebook and Google that negatively impact applicants’ acceptance chances.”

In a recent survey, Kaplan Test Prep reported that 27% of admissions officers said they use Google to screen applicants. The same survey indicated that 26% of admissions officers look at Facebook pages. It is important to note that through Google, admissions officers can look at Twitter accounts as well.

Another astounding fact is that college recruiters look at online media, too. 87% of colleges cite Facebook as one of their resources, while 76% use Twitter, and 73% utilize YouTube clips!

Some students might think that looking at his or her online material is an invasion of privacy. And even though some colleges declare online media off limits, the vast majority of college recruiters do have complete freedom to look at anything you may put on the internet.

So, what kind of online acts or behavior can actually affect you possibility of admission?

  • Photos with alcohol depicted in them
  • Any type of “hate” words or speeches
  • Descriptions of videos of any type of violent or upsetting behavior
  • Any type of nudity
  • Use or mention of any illegal drugs
  • Any type of posts that will alarm admissions officers or college recruiters that the student may not be a “good fit” at their university

How should a student manage his or her online activity?

Hass suggests that before submitting your college application, type your name and hometown in on a variety of search engines and scan any results. If there is something there, do your best to clean up anything negative that may come up.

You can also use the privacy settings on your social media to control which posts and pictures are public. It is also a good idea to set your profile so others can’t “tag” you in any photos without your permission. Also, try not to allow yourself to be “tagged” in public photos. You want to show the colleges you are a responsible student.

In addition, remember that blogs and public forums are also searchable. Being a mature and responsible student who is getting ready to tackle college life is important for the college admissions and college recruiters to see. Remember, they want someone who will be an excellent ambassador for their university.

If you have any questions about the college admission process, please give us a call and we can walk you through everything you need to know.


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