Today’s younger generations tend to use the accessibility and abundance of social media as an open book about themselves. By a simple Google, Facebook, or Twitter search, the life a person can be unraveled before their eyes. The frustrated posts about school, teachers, peers, and home life are available for all to see. Social media updates so often that it is becoming harder and harder to make profiles private to outsiders. That chemistry test you failed because you didn’t want to study that you complained about? That history test you cheated on that you bragged about? This all becomes available to anyone who looks.
In the very competitive world that higher education has become, this can be a students’ fatal mistake. If an applicant is boarder-line at his or her number one school and the admissions department decides to use social media to research, all of their life is opened before the admissions counselor’s eyes.
Has admissions come to the point that they have to Google a person before they admit them? Not necessarily, but you never know who is going to Google your name. At the school I work at, when we are into the late July and August months, we use Facebook on our accepted pool that we haven’t heard from to see if they have updated their education section. If it isn’t our school, we then cancel their application. Obviously a large school won’t be able to use social media on every applicant because of the sheer number they receive, but it is important to be weary. You just never know.
Kaplan did a survey in 2012 on admissions offices and the use of Google and Facebook. Shockingly, it showed that 27% of the respondents used Google on prospective students and 26% used Facebook to research prospective students. Of those 26% to use Facebook, 35% came back with results that portrayed the student negatively. This is a shocking number—35% of the students had a negative review!
Katherine Cohen, founder and CEO of IvyWise and an independent admissions counselor, handles the situation perfectly for her students. She explains that just because students need to keep their posts clean doesn’t mean they can’t use it to their advantage. A student can research things going on at the school they are interested in and post about that; they can use social media to display some of their creative side and hobbies, and focus on extending their personality, not tearing it to pieces. So discussing failed exams and skipping classes is a definite no-no, and will certainly land the student in the 35% with a possible rejection letter from your dream school.
So what should transfer admissions counselors do to inform these students? Well for one, making these findings as bright as the sun for all the students to see is one thing. It should be in school newspapers, on all transfer guides, and should be discussed, especially with border line students. 4-year counselors can inform them during the inquiry and early application process that they need to check their social media for possible negative reviews. This could open their eyes to the reality of having their life as an open book.
Another article shows the other 75(ish)% and how they find it appalling to look at someone through social media. They feel it is a breach of privacy and not right to judge against a teenagers post. But how far is too far? Is it a break in privacy if it can be found in a public and completely legal search? According to this article, it shows a prospective college student who posted a Facebook picture of herself trying heroin for the first time and a possible transfer student from City College of San Francisco “tweeting a selfie with a caption that reads ‘in class w/my feet up like f*** it’ then posts it all to Instagram.”
It has become a scary world when the lines of privacy can be crossed without a person being aware of it. A great rule of thumb to go by is if you don’t want your grandmother to read it, don’t post it. I’m sure the increasing number of social media presence isn’t going to decline any time soon. If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. ever find themselves declining, another social media presence will work its way into the future.
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