Students shouldn’t air their “digital dirty laundry” as more college admissions officers are looking

Facebook.0607 (Medium)I am surprised how many teens post photos of themselves drinking or carousing on Facebook or fill their blog postings with expletives and tales of excess.

I understand that privacy controls are improved on most social media platforms, but I would still not post stuff online that I would not want my great aunt to see.

And this is why. From Kaplan Test Prep, which has some good tips for college applicants on social media usage.

Results from Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of college admissions officers show that schools are increasingly discovering information on Facebook and Google that negatively impact applicants’ acceptance chances.

While the percentage of admissions officers who took to Google (27%) and checked Facebook (26%) as part of the applicant review process increased slightly (20% for Google and 26% for Facebook in 2011) from last year, the percentage that said they discovered something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting into the school nearly tripled – from 12% last year to 35% this year.

Offenses cited included essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, alcohol consumption in photos, things that made them “wonder,” and “illegal activities.”

In 2008, when Kaplan began tracking this trend, only one in 10 admissions officers reported checking applicants’ social networking pages.

“Social media used to basically mean Facebook. But the underlying trend we see is the increase in use of Google, which taps into a social media landscape that’s proliferated to include Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, blogging and other platforms — and teens today are using all of these channels,” said Jeff Olson, Vice President of Data Science, Kaplan Test Prep.

“Additionally, we’re seeing a growing cultural ubiquity in social media use, plus a generation that’s grown up with a very fluid sense of privacy norms. In the face of all these trends, the rise in discovery of digital dirty laundry is inevitable.”

Olson noted, “With regard to college admissions, the traditional application — the essays, the letters of recommendation — represent the polished version of an applicant, while often what’s found online is a rawer version of that applicant. Schools are philosophically divided on whether an applicant’s digital trail is fair game, and the majority of admissions officers do not look beyond the submitted application, but our advice to students is to think first, Tweet later.”

Kaplan’s survey also found that only 15% of colleges currently have rules regarding the checking of applicants’ Facebook or social networking pages – a percentage that has remained fairly consistent over the past few years.

Far more common than the use of social media to evaluate applicants is its use in recruiting potential students. Kaplan Test Prep’s survey found that 87% of colleges use Facebook for this purpose (up from 82% two years ago); 73% use YouTube (up from 56%); and 76% use Twitter (up from 52%). College admissions officers have not, however, embraced Google Plus – only 9% are using it to recruit prospective students.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

19 comments Add your comment

RCB

October 4th, 2012
10:41 am

If I were in college admissions, I’d give bonus points for NOT having a Facebook account. I’m really joking, but how do people have time for all of these sites????

Mortimer Collins

October 4th, 2012
10:54 am

LOL….Whats done at night comes to light. Here is an idea…Get a job!

bootney farnsworth

October 4th, 2012
11:49 am

this is gonna be a rude slap to the air it all in public generation.

you’d think by now, with the tons of examples of cyber oversharing gone badly wrong, people would learn to be a bit more cautious in what they chose to make public.

mom of 3

October 4th, 2012
12:37 pm

My 17 year old daughter does not Facebook and never has. She sees it as a huge waste of time and a ridiculous means of self promotion. She is considering titling her college application essay “Why I am an Individual” and speak to why she just says no to Facebook. I think colleges will be begging her to pick their school!!!!!!! And before you think she is an outcast, she actually had a boy say to her, “Your popular. Why don’t you do Facebook?”

Hillbilly D

October 4th, 2012
1:15 pm

Why anybody would want to keep the whole world posted on every thing they do is beyond me.

Heika

October 4th, 2012
1:26 pm

The Republicans and/or Democrats will probably have a Social Networking Privacy plank in their platforms come 2020 or 2024. It’s a no-lose issue with most voters.

taco taco

October 4th, 2012
1:38 pm

I used to have a Live Journal blog and MySpace account back in 06/07. I find it tiresome to keep up with. I didn’t care about Jimmy’s cat dancing to cat food nor other extraneous events in others lives. Then facebook came and I could care even less.

Just Sayin.....

October 4th, 2012
2:25 pm

Knowing that colleges are doing this, I would recommend that students game the system. Create a facebook account/page the paints the student as a studious, hardworking saint.

Shannon

October 4th, 2012
3:04 pm

I suppose it’s possible for folks who see their entire circle of friends daily (i.e., students), but I honestly don’t know how folks with a lot of friends in multiple circles keep up with all of them without social media.

I’m meaningfully in touch with former friends, former colleagues, former classmates–and we have insightful political discussions (because we’re from all over the political and philosophical spectrums). When I go out socially, there’s a 90 percent chance that we planned it via Facebook. Threw a big surprise party for my husband last month–and I honestly don’t know how that could have been done without Facebook.

Sure, people had social lives before. But I really don’t have that much *time* for a social life. As a grad student who teaches a couple of courses and has multiple other responsibilities, I wouldn’t have nearly the social life I do without Facebook. It would be incredibly isolating.

William Casey

October 4th, 2012
3:23 pm

I’m coming to believe that the only thing of interest to institutions of higher education is the student’s (or his/her parents’) ability to pay the tuition. Facebook is just fun. I would think that admissions guys would have better things to do.

William Casey

October 4th, 2012
3:23 pm

I’m coming to believe that the only thing of interest to institutions of higher education is the student’s (or his/her parents’) ability to pay the tuition. Facebook is just fun. I would think that admissions guys would have better things to do.

William Casey

October 4th, 2012
3:23 pm

I’m coming to believe that the only thing of interest to institutions of higher education is the student’s (or his/her parents’) ability to pay the tuition. Facebook is just fun. I would think that admissions guys would have better things to do.

Ole Guy

October 4th, 2012
4:49 pm

There are certain…let’s call em values, if you will, or simply gd common frequin sense…issues which are not a product of education, socio economic background, or anything else besides…common gd frequin sense. If these kids are stupid enough; devoid of that element of…common gd frequin sense…they have no gd business even thinkin’ about college, or for that matter, anything but the simplest menial labor which requires little beyond showing up.

If the basic standards for college admission have dwindled to the point of “no airing of digital dirty laundry”, we have, indeed, reached a new low in the level of expectations we boomers are to expect from the so-called “cream of the crop”. What’s next? Don’t poo poo your pants when interviewing with the admissions folks? JHC!

Pride and Joy

October 4th, 2012
5:08 pm

When I look for a nanny, I always Google up the applicants. Any sleazy and stupid comments on their Facebook pages is an automatic no thank you. It’s not just immature kids who post things on their pages — it’s the adults.

Eddie G

October 5th, 2012
12:56 pm

I agree with Mr. Casey………if college admission folks have nothing better to do than to play Big Brother on social networking sites, then find them something meaningful, or let them go.

Another comment

October 5th, 2012
7:17 pm

The kids are on Twitter not Facebook, and they post arrests, MIP’s they brag about. We should just raise the drinking age to 21 like it was when we were in college. But then I am a Yankee, and it was always 18 up North. I always grew up in a State where you could by beer after noon on Sunday.

Ron

October 6th, 2012
6:04 am

Colleges have no business doing this kind of background check. If students perform well academically, that should be the criteria, not what happens after-hours. Once again, too much big brother going on!

Ole Guy

October 6th, 2012
3:53 pm

Ron, Eddie, and, I ‘m sure, a few others, may have some valid points concerning free speech and the like. However, it may or may not come as no surprise that one of the best lessons these college wannabees (or, for that matter, anyone) may learn is…there’s a time to “speak one’s mind”, as it were, and there’s a time to “keep it to yourself”. Academic performance SHOULD be the primary consideration for admission, but (fortunately or not…like it or not) a helluva lot more may be expected of today’s youth, and it’s gotta start somewhere.

In a period of extreme concern over our “rights”…right to this; right to that…we seem to have all-but-ignored the “responsibility aspect” of those rights. Do you honestly feel that, no matter the issue on rights, it is very responsible to digitaly “shoot one’s mouth off” as it were. Regardless of the rights issue, I think you will agree that discretion (a long-lost art) is far more important than the mindless exercise of a misused/abused right.

Alicia

October 25th, 2012
8:33 am

google The Common App. Most colleges accpet it. Register and you’ll have prompts there. But make sure you look at the schools that have supplements additional essysBut they usually give you topic of your choice as an option