Colleges Using Social Media to Deny Admission

CB047102A study put out by Kaplan Test Prep shows that college admissions officers take a look at what your teen is posting on their social networks by checking their name on Google, Facebook or other online hot spots when they get the applications. Almost 3 in 10 admissions officers review applicants’ online footprints. Although that isn’t new, the percentage of applications denied because of something that was found in the officer’s search almost tripled from 12% to 35%. Reasons for the denials included finding evidence of essay plagiarism, discovering vulgarities in blogs, seeing alcohol consumption in photos, finding indications of illegal activities, and unearthing posts that indicate poor decision-making.

Teens have a particular problem defining what’s appropriate to post online for a variety of reasons:

  • They don’t consider the consequences because teens are notorious for only thinking about what’s happening in the here and now.
  • Social media has flourished. Your teen likely has accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and other platforms, and he or she may even have a blog. Google searches all of these and stores info about your teen. It’s very easy for anyone to see what your teen is posting.
  • Each individual piece of information your teen posts doesn’t seem important to them. The problem is that information is permanent, so it accumulates to provide a very comprehensive picture of your teen’s identity. Small details – their school, the way they look, the cities they have lived, who their friends are, what scares them – all add up.
  • Teens do not view the Internet – social networking pages, blogs, chat rooms – as “public.” They are generally alone when they post something and they often feel like their pages are their own private journal or just read by their “friends.” In actuality, content they post is widely circulated, and is likely to live on into their adulthood. This information gets searched, shared, stored, and forwarded. Comments, actions or images posted online are permanent, despite your best efforts to delete material.

Parents, advise your teen that, before they post, they should ask themselves if they would feel comfortable with their next door neighbor, current teacher, a college admissions officer, or their future in-laws reading their post. Also, tell your teens that you will be monitoring what they do online. Set rules about poor online behavior and follow through with consequences when they break the limits. Don’t let yourself feel guilty about placing these limits – recognize you are protecting their future.


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