Questionable Facebook Content Hurting Chances At College Admission

By Justin Lafferty 

Embarrassing and naughty Facebook posts aren’t just hurting job applicants, they’re also making it harder for prospective college students to get accepted to the university of their choice. A new study from Kaplan Test Prep shows that 35 percent of admissions officers said they discovered something during a search of applicants’ social media profiles that negatively impacted a student’s chances of getting into the school — up from 12 percent last year.

According to Kaplan, some of these offenses seen by admissions officers included vulgarity, alcohol consumption in photos, things that made them “wonder,” and evidence of illegal activities. When Kaplan first started tracking this trend in 2008, only one in 10 admissions reps said they checked applicants’ social networking pages.

Jeff Olson, vice president of data science for Kaplan Test Prep, described why there has been more background checking on social media sites:

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. 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.

Additionally, Kaplan discovered that only 15 percent of colleges surveyed have rules regarding the checking of prospective students’ Facebook or social media pages. Of these schools, 69 percent said the policy prohibited admissions officers from visiting applicants’ pages.

Colleges are using social media now more than ever for recruitment. Kaplan found that 87 percent of colleges use Facebook for recruiting processes (up from 82 percent two years ago), 76 percent use Twitter, 73 percent use YouTube, but only 9 percent use Google Plus for this purpose.

Readers: How do you keep your profile clean of questionable content?

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