College Admissions Officials Turn to Facebook to Research Students

Instead of posting harmful information, use social media networks to showcase your strengths.

When a prospective student applies to college, it is expected that his or her application profile will be judged—whether it be on grades, standardized test scores, or a combination of factors. A growing trend among college admissions officers, though, involves a different profile check of an applicant: a Facebook profile.

Facebook has become a vital source for admissions professionals looking for background information on prospective students. In a recent survey of admissions officers at 359 colleges and universities, Kaplan Test Prep revealed that 24 percent of respondents reported using Facebook or other social networking pages to research an applicant. This is a significant increase from 2008, when only 10 percent reported using social media as a source during the admissions process.

While policies for researching an applicant's social media footprint are not standard yet at most schools, Martha Allman, dean of admissions at Wake Forest University, says that her staff uses Facebook profiles more as a means of introduction rather than investigation.

For students who did not opt to set privacy settings on Facebook, the consequences may have come in the form of college rejection letters. In the Kaplan Test Prep survey, 12 percent of respondents who reported checking social media sites noted that posts—such as vulgar language in a status update or alcohol consumption in photos—negatively impacted a prospective student's admissions chances.

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