A record number of college admissions officers are now looking at content on social media when deciding who to admit into their respective universities.
What you put on your Facebook page can not only have to do with whether or not you get that job you want, it can now have an effect on whether or not you even get into college in the first place. A recent study by Kaplan Test Prep says that a record number of college admissions officers are now looking at social media sites. In fact, according to the new study, over 40 percent of law college admissions officers in the United States take a prospective student’s social media platform into account when making their entrance decision, along with 24 percent of business schools, and 22 percent of all colleges across the board. Those figures are up from around 10 percent in 2008, in some cases quadrupling the importance of what sort of social media breadcrumbs you leave on the Internet.
What are college admissions officers looking for when they search a potential students’ social media platform? According to the survey, usually they look at social media to learn about an applicant’s special talents, research a criminal background or other disciplinary action, verify an applicant’s awards and to verify the worthiness of a scholarship.
High School students thinking about heading off to college might want to consider the same advice given to employees looking to snag a job in which an employer examines social media sites.
“What are you reading? What are you watching? What are your interests?”
According to Josh Hampton, co-owner of Yellowberri, a company that offers social media strategies, those are the three things you should focus on via social media. Hampton even said that expressing your political stance isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it shows that you care about something larger than yourself, no matter which side of the aisle you lean toward.
Of course, the things that you should stay away from are pictures of partying, binge drinking, memes that possibly express racism and/or an intolerance of cultures other than your own, and of course, any references to criminal activity like drug use.
This all seems like common sense; however, one might be surprised at what some high school-age kids are putting on their Facebook pages and Instagram accounts. According to the study, 32 percent law college admissions officers, 14 percent of business college officers and 12 percent of college admissions officers across the United States have said that an applicant has been negatively affected based on what they’ve seen on social media or via a Google search.
Some universities, however, are expressly not examining social media sites when considering applicants, feeling that it’s akin to an invasion of privacy. Other universities do look at social media sites of applicants, but not in order to judge their worthiness to attend their college. Instead, those universities reach out to applicants in a positive way.
The Kaplan Test Prep says that college applicants should Google themselves to see what potential problems might exist and attempt to clean up anything that may not put them in a positive light. Additionally, college applicants should also examine their own social media sites, like Facebook, and recheck their privacy settings to see what is available to the public. Also, keep your Facebook profile picture appropriate, as it can often be viewed even if your profile is locked down; a Facebook profile picture of underage drinking might hurt your chances of getting into college.
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