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Social Media Impacts College Acceptance


One of the most active demographic groups on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are high school and college aged kids. After all Facebook was founded in a Harvard University dorm. Kids love social media, but there are increasingly significant implications for their college admissions process, based on how they use it.

Kaplan Test Prep, a major provider of testing and college preparatory services, published a recent study which highlights how important a student’s social media profile can be with regards to being accepted to college. “Results from Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of college admissions officers show that schools are increasingly discovering information on Facebook and Google that negatively impact applicants’ acceptance chances,” reports Kaplan Test Prep in a news release discussing the survey results.  According to Kaplan’s research, the percentage of college admissions’ offices that said they discovered something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting into the school nearly tripled – from 12% last year to 35% this year. Kaplan cited “… essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, alcohol consumption in photos, things that made them ‘wonder,’ and ‘illegal activities,’”as red flags for college admissions’ officers.

Kaplan reports that different schools have different policies regarding a prospects social media profile as criteria for admissions. Some schools outright ban admissions’ officers from accessing these profiles, while others leave it to the officer’s discretion. Kaplan points to the younger generation’s view of privacy, or lack thereof, that is creating an increasing amount of “digital dirty laundry.” Younger people are much more apt to share things on social media that older generations wouldn’t be quite proud of, much less, broadcast it to the world. This ‘digital dirty laundry’ has implications, increasingly of which involve college admission.

“Additionally, we’re seeing a growing cultural ubiquity in social media use, plus a generation that’s grown up with a very fluid sense of privacy norms. In the face of all these trends, the rise in discovery of digital dirty laundry is inevitable,” notes Jeff Olson, Vice President of Data Science, Kaplan Test Prep.

If you have the chance to offer some advice to any young people who have aspirations of going to college one day, perhaps you can repeat Olson’s – “…our advice to students is to think first, Tweet later.”

One Comment
  1. Steve #

    What is posted on a social network completely unrelated to schooling should have nothing to do with whether or not someone is accepted.. that is ridiculous. It’s like nosey employers snooping on employees facebook accounts and then firing them over something they saw.

    October 31, 2012

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