Facebook has changed the way people of all ages function; most high school students cannot imagine what life would be without it. Someone’s Facebook profile and what they post can play defining roles in their reputation and how they are perceived by their peers. When someone is curious about a person they do not know, they just look them up on Facebook. So why wouldn’t a college admissions office do the same thing?
The purpose of a college application and the job of the admissions officers is to try to get to know the applicant behind the piece of paper just a little bit better. According to a recent survey by Kaplan Test Prep, 24% of admissions officers from 359 surveyed schools have gone to an applicant’s Facebook or other social networking page in order to find out more about them. This number is a significant increase from 2008, when only 10% of surveyed schools reported checking applicants’ social networking pages. A full 12% of admissions representatives claimed that what they found “negatively impacted the applicant’s chances of admission.” Vice president of research at Kaplan Test Prep Jeff Olson said, “There’s definitely a growing acceptance by college admissions officers in the practice of checking applicants’ digital footprints.” Areas of concern included essay plagiarism, “illegal activities,” alcohol consumption in pictures, and inappropriate blogs.
What is striking about this recent phenomenon is its relevance to Pace students. No student is exempt from a random Facebook search. College counselor Mr. Bradley found this study disconcerting, saying, “We’ve mentioned it before, but maybe this is an issue we need to discuss more.” He pointed out that many college admissions officers are in their twenties and are active Facebook users, making their impulse to search someone an easy reality. He believes that this mostly affects students who are “on the cusp” of admission and the officers just aren’t sure what to do with them. Mr. Bradley advised students to go through their Facebook and check for things that may cast them in an unfavorable light. Kaplan’s Mr. Olson had the same advice, saying, “College applicants need to be particularly mindful of what they post, and may even want to search online to make sure their digital footprint is clean.”
By Claire Quintrell, Features Editor ’12