How Many College Admissions Officers Check Applicants’ Facebook Profiles?

By David Cohen 

CollegeAdmissionOffice650The percentage of college admissions officers who have visited applicants’ profiles on Facebook and other social networks reached an all-time high of 31 percent, according to a recent study by Kaplan Test Prep, but applicants are wising up, as 30 percent of admissions officers reported findings that negatively impacted their chances, down from 35 percent in 2012.

Kaplan Test Prep said just 10 percent of admissions officers reported checking applicants’ Facebook pages when it began polling on the topic in 2008, and that number reached 24 percent in 2011 and 27 percent last year.

In a separate survey of college-bound students, Kaplan found that 50 percent said they would be “not at all concerned” if admissions officers searched for them online, while 27 percent replied, “not too concerned,” and only 14 percent answered with “very concerned” (the remaining 9 percent said, “somewhat concerned”).

Students have also been taking precautions, as Kaplan’s study found that 22 percent had changed their searchable social media user names, 26 percent had untagged themselves from photos, and 12 percent had deleted their social media profiles altogether.

Kaplan Test Prep Vice President Seppy Basili said in a release announcing the findings:

As social media has skyrocketed from being the domain of a younger generation to societal ubiquity, the perceived taboo of admissions officers checking applicants online has diminished. Granted, most admissions officers are not tapping into Google or Facebook, and certainly not as a matter of course. But there’s definitely greater acknowledgment and acceptance of this practice now than there was five years ago.

Our advice to college applicants is to run themselves through online search engines on a regular basis to be aware of what information is available about them online, and know that what’s online is open to discovery and can impact them. Sometimes that impact is beneficial, if online searches turn up postings of sports scores, awards, public performances, or news of something interesting they’ve undertaken. But digital footprints aren’t always clean, so students should maintain a healthy dose of caution, and definitely think before posting.

Executive Director of College Admissions programs Christine Brown added:

Many students are becoming more cautious about what they post, and also savvier about strengthening privacy settings and circumventing search.

Readers: Are students applying to colleges finally starting to get the clue that their content on Facebook and other social networks can hurt their chances?

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