Social Media Impact Admissions More than You Think

By Emma Koger

Charles Bartholomew Bass, Mountain Drew, L’carpetron Dookmarriot, Christina Yang, Sans Culottes, Rage Chill, and Sass-Queen. These are all names I scan while casually scrolling my Facebook newsfeed. The pseudonyms are a common part of senior year, and although they make it difficult to tag your friends in that picture from when you went to see The Hunger Games, send out a group message, or even know who is posting, they do serve a purpose. A name change simply makes it harder to find your profile — a concern of many students applying to college.

Recently more than ever, college admissions departments have admitted to looking at applicants’ social media profiles. Kaplan Test Preparation executed a survey this year in which 381 colleges participated. 31 percent of colleges reported they look at students’ social media in the admissions process. 30 percent of the admission teams revealed that they had viewed a site that impacted a student’s application negatively. This number is shocking. What on earth is being posted on the Internet to make a college so appalled that they reject you?

Although looking into applicants’ social media sites can be seen as a breach of privacy, we should take this statistic as a warning and a sign that we should pay more attention to what is put on the Internet, and that it can be viewed by anyone, anywhere in the world. Most people would say the best piece of advice is to post only what you would want your grandmother to see. Would that picture of the rager you went to last night be appropriate for your extended family to stumble upon? What would Great Uncle William say about it? Even if you have yet to accept Great Uncle William’s friend request, it is safest to think of what you post in terms of who you would be comfortable seeing them. Unfortunately, many pictures can be easily misinterpreted, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Even the picture from your family reunion in 2011 where you’re holding a red cup full of delicious, foamy Martinelli’s Apple Cider could look suspicious to an admissions officer.

However, the discussion of what is right to post and what can ruin your chance of higher education should not be one-sided. After a college discovers something on a social media site, if there is any room for doubt whatsoever, they should consult the student. You deserve the chance to explain your Martinelli’s! Colgate College is one of the few institutions that will tell a student the exact reason they are rejected, and this includes inappropriate social media activity. Recently, in an incident at Bowdoin college, a girl tweeted negative things about the school at a prospective student event, and then proceeded to apply anyway. This is another example of a student’s misconduct that impacted her rejection from the school. However, in this case, the student didn’t have a chance to explain or change her actions until it was too late.

The recent exposés of college Facebook inspection have shocked students, but in the end it is important to be careful with what you post. What is put on the Internet stays on the Internet, and the college admissions process will not be the only time people make character judgements based on social media. Employers often look at Facebook while hiring. Be careful and proud of what you post and there will be nothing to worry about. With a squeaky clean social media record, the opportunities are endless, and your mind can rest easy.