Do college admissions officers look at applicants' Facebook profiles?
The answer is maybe or probably.
A study by Kaplan test prep concluded that of the 500 best US universities, 20% Googled an applicant and 24% said they researched candidates using social media. In 2010, the study found 6% of admissions officers checked applicants’ Facebook pages, and 12% said what they found online negatively affected a student’s admissions chances.
In my experience, Googling and looking at someone on Facebook is not routine. Quite frankly, my first reaction after reading the about the study was that these admission officers are obviously not very busy. However, if I had some troubling issues on an application, especially for a large scholarship, I would certainly try to get additional information via the internet on a candidate to confirm the information in the file.
Just in case this is more common than we want to admit, I recommend that you clean up your digital image or make sure your privacy settings are high enough to not reveal your offensive photos or comments. Good advice not only for university admission, but for future employment or other ‘high-stake’ situations.
What is not surprising is the use of social networking to recruit students; 85% use Facebook and 66% use YouTube to reach prospective students. Therefore, while initially Facebook and YouTube may be used legitimately or appropriately, it may only be a question of time before admission officers ‘stumble’ upon your inappropriate behaviour or photos.
On the positive side, why not use your Facebook, Twitter and other social networking to present a positive image of yourself. Think of social media as your expanded, digital resume. For example, this is a great medium to talk about your volunteer opportunities and extra-curricular activities.
So either way, it's time to clean up your online image or use it to more positively reflect your image!