More College Admissions Officers Are Finding Fewer Red Flags on Applicants’ Facebook Profiles

By David Cohen 

CollegeAdmissionOffice650The bad news for college applicants: More admissions officers than ever are visiting their profiles on Facebook and other social networks. The good news for college applications: Those admissions officers are finding fewer reasons on those profiles to red-flag applicants.

The latest survey of college admissions officers from Kaplan Test Prep found that:

  • 35 percent of respondents visited applicants’ social media pages to learn more about them, marking the highest percentage since Kaplan began tracking this trend in 2008.
  • Only 16 percent of admissions officers found content online that negatively impacted applicants’ chances of being accepted to their schools, down from 30 percent in 2013 and 35 percent in 2012.
  • A separate survey of more than 500 high-school students found that 58 percent of them described their social media profiles as “fair game” for admissions officers, and 35 percent felt that content on those profiles would enhance their acceptance chances, while just 3 percent indicated the opposite, and 62 percent believed their content would not make a difference either way.

Kaplan Test Prep executive director of K12 and college prep programs Christine Brown said in a release announcing the results:

As social media has evolved from early versions of MySpace and Facebook to a broad ecosystem of platforms and applications that are a daily part of millions of people’s lives worldwide, we’re seeing greater acceptance of social media use in the college admissions process. This means admissions officers are increasingly open to what they once viewed as a dubious practice, while teens have come to terms with the fact that their digital trails are for the most part easily searchable, followable and sometimes judged.

There’s no doubt that social media has become increasingly a part of the admissions process, but students should recognize that it still plays only a peripheral role. The majority of admissions officers are not looking at Facebook for applicant information, and even those who are typically do so as an anomaly — because they were flagged, either positively or negatively, to particular applicants. Admissions chances are still overwhelmingly decided by the traditional factors of high-school GPA (grade point average), standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, personal essays and extracurricular activities. Applicants’ online personas are really a wild card in the admissions process: The bottom line for students is that what you post online likely won’t get you into college, but it just might keep you out.

Readers: Did any of the findings by Kaplan Test Prep surprise you?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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