Kaplan’s annual survey of college admissions officers seems to be flying under the radar this year, but the headline number caught our attention. According to the survey, 40% of college admissions officers admit to checking applicants’ social media profiles when making admissions decisions.
By way of comparison, the similar Kaplan survey for 2014 found that 35% of admissions officers were checking social media. In 2013, the number was 31%. The trend is clear.
We actually think the true numbers could be higher. While we have no doubt that colleges are only looking at publicly posted material, there is still some stigma around the privacy element. Some onlookers and applicants might consider admissions folks venturing online – outside the bounds of the application, test scores and essays – to be an invasion of privacy, or at least look like one.
What triggers admissions officers to venture online for more info? According to respondents:
- An applicant’s claim of a special talent
- Verification of significant awards
- Criminal or disciplinary issues
- Extra due diligence for scholarship candidates
A couple of observations are warranted.
First, in the case of 1 and 2 above, it’s pretty clear that if you have something special that you’ve highlighted in the application, you are well served to make sure that it shows up online, in your social media activity. A Facebook post (to a public Facebook account) will suffice.
Regarding number 4, be advised that if you’re looking for something beyond plain vanilla admission, you can expect them to give more consideration to who you are, not just what your grades were. Looking online is a good place for them to make such a decision.
Finally, if they have any reason at all to look for you online, they better not find anything negative. Keep your posts clean, and pay attention to grammar and spelling. Delete the party pics and remember that the admissions officer might have a very different sense of humor than you.
If you’re thinking about deleting your social media profiles, or setting them to private to avoid scrutiny, we don’t recommend it. Having at least a couple of clean, positive online profiles is far better than looking like you might have something to hide.
If you’d like some help making sure your social media profiles are ready for prime time, we can help. For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. Sign up today!
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