A recent study by Kaplan found that 26% of college admissions officers checked applicants’ social media pages as part of the admissions review. More surprisingly, 27% used Google to search applicants. And many others cited searches on YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and other sites. These numbers have increased dramatically over the past several years. Admissions representatives state that the applications, essays, teacher recommendations and other pieces of the application present the polished version of kids, while social media may represent a more accurate profile.
What’s worse is that the percentage who said they discovered something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting admitted nearly tripled – from 12% last year to 35% this year. Those are big numbers!
I was interviewed on this topic by ABC World News, and offered several tips for any high school student who intends to apply to college. They are:
1. Keep a clean account free of inappropriate postings and pictures from the minute you set up your profile.
2. Know what your friends are posting as well, and make sure they aren’t posting inappropriate pictures or videos.
3. Tighten privacy settings so that only your friends can see posts.
4. Google yourself so you know what is out there. Even though you set your privacy settings on social media, search engines can work around those filters.
5. Remember to go through old postings, too. College admissions counselors often look all the way back to when you first joined social media.
6. Check your social media pages in the fall of senior year.
7. Rule of thumb: If you don’t want your parents to see it, take it down.
Parents should also join Instagram and other sites, and should peruse a student’s postings periodically. It is often not your student who’s posting inappropriate material. Rather it’s their friends, so a double check by mom and dad is a good course of action, especially for seniors in high school. Don’t let social media bring down your college aspirations!