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Do Inappropriate Facebook Postings Have Admission Consequences for Teens?


Do Inappropriate Facebook Postings Have Admission Consequences for Teens?

Oct 06, 2008By Michael Stoner

In a recent survey of 320 college admission officers by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions revealed that ”… one out of ten admissions officers has visited an applicant’s social networking Web site as part of the admissions decision-making process.” [Report here.]

Kaplan puts the dilemma pretty succinctly:

The social networking frontier is a bit like the Wild West for colleges and universities-everyone is trying to figure out how to navigate it,” said Jeff Olson, Executive Director of Research for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. “The vast majority of schools we surveyed said they have no official policies or guidelines in place regarding visiting applicants’ social networking web sites-nor are they considering plans to develop them.” For schools who reported having a policy, generally the policy is not to look at or factor these sites into the evaluation. One admissions officer reported, “Staff can visit them for narrowly defined reasons, but can’t go on a fishing expedition.” Another noted, “We use [social networking sites] to contact students but do not consider them as part of the application process. 

And it’s not just at the undergraduate level; Kaplan reports,

Kaplan conducted similar surveys of admissions officers at business, law and medical schools, with similar results. Admissions officers at 9 percent of business schools, 15 percent of law schools and 14 percent of medical schools surveyed report having visited applicants’ social networking sites during the admissions decision-making process. 

And guess what? Kaplan says, “most parents of high school students think the practice of colleges and universities looking at social networking sites when evaluating applicants is unfair.”

There’s some discussion of these on the Washington Post’s Forums if you’re interested in reading or participating.

In a Wall Street Journal article, several admission counselors respond to how they use (and don’t use) Facebook in admission decisions. Basically, to sum it up: “We don’t have time to do a lot of checking, but if something turns up, we’d consider it as part of our decision.”

As far as I can tell, NACAC hasn’t asked admission officers about their use of Facebook or other social networking sites in considering applicants. But they did ask about the role that inappropriate postings may play in rescinding offers of admission. Here’s what admission officers said, as reported in State of College Admission 2007:

6.7 percent of respondents said that discovering an “inappropriate Web site posting” was “very likely” to get an offer of admission rescinded
26 percent said it was”somewhat likely”
44.1 percent said “somewhat unlikely”
23.2 percent said “very unlikely”

The most common reasons for rescinding admission offers are:

…final grades, followed by falsification of application information and disciplinary issues …. Public colleges were more likely than private colleges to have rescinded an offer of admission due to final grades (83 percent versus 59 percent), while private colleges were more likely to have done so due to a disciplinary issue (33 percent versus 13 percent). More selective colleges also were more likely to have revoked an offer of admission for disciplinary reasons.

  • Michael Stoner Co-Founder and Co-Owner Was I born a skeptic or did I become one as I watched the hypestorm gather during the dotcom years, recede, and congeal once more as we come to terms with our online, social, mobile world? Whatever. I'm not much interested in cutting edge but what actually works for real people in the real world. Does that make me a bad person?