Seniors, we understand that your sense of privacy is, shall we say, flexible, but admission officers have flexibility too.
They can check your fluid high school privacy on Facebook and Google at their discretion-without warning to you, and with possibly devastating outcomes.
According to a Kaplan survey of college admissions officers, more than one in four respondents admits to checking Google and Facebook for information on applicants. Of those officers who conducted a search, 35% uncovered information that negatively affected an applicant’s chance of admission. This year, the online search about applicants has become even more vigorous.
Some scholarship sponsors have started requiring applicants to accept Facebook friend requests as part of the review process. In certain cases, your own alumni interviewer may find you on Twitter and follow you. There are many ways to access a student’s “truth” these days. To avoid the discovery of such “truth,” many seniors have wiped their Facebook pages, or deleted their accounts, or even set up fake accounts under other names. Some go so far as to set up Socially Responsible Accounts with only listings of wonderful community service on it-for example: “Today I helped out at the Tenth Street Shelter; or, “Today I spoke in front of a middle school group about bullying.” You get the idea. Well, so does the Admission Office. They are wise to those who say they have no Facebook page; many officers will check under your name or variants of your name for a social media online presence; and you had better hope they only find one of which you’re proud.
In CNN’s opinion piece on Facebook’s role in college scrutiny, Debra Shaver, the dean of admissions at Smith College, had this to say of student writing on the Internet: “I do think that students can be held accountable. Those of us at residential colleges are building communities; I want students in my community who behave in a way that is civil and respectful and thoughtful.”
William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s Dean of Admission admits that, although not a practice, admission officers “may have occasion to encounter an applicant’s digital footprint,” he noted in an e-mail. “This often can be positive for applicants to the degree that it helps demonstrate their range of interests and accomplishments, but could be negative if it raises serious questions about character or judgment.” Hmmm…”may have occasion to encounter,” huh? Sounds like you might want to take this seriously, guys.
In an ideal world, colleges would commit to a modus operandi regarding their use of Facebook and social media spying; but as of yet, there is no consensus on use. Better to be safe than sorry, my pre-college puppies. Tell your friends in advance not to tag you in party photos; block any ‘friends” who use crude language on your site; better yet…just leave Facebook during Senior Year. Even the best students can get caught by a photo in compromising scenarios where they are only bystanders. You spend so much time perfecting your resume, activities list and applications-why would you not perfect your online social presence?
On a lighter note as to why it seems as though students are migrating from Facebook elsewhere…well, umm, you’ll have to watch this yourselves:
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