What do you think about universities and colleges using Facebook to search for an applicant during the admissions process? What about checking their social media pages, or even further, going through their pictures, posts and personal information? There is definitely a blurry line on what is acceptable and what is not for applicants and admissions officers. After asking a variety of college students about the matter, I found the majority of responses were unpleased with the decision. Many felt that their privacy was being violated, especially when the school did not ask permission to look at their pages. Almost everyone agreed that their Facebook or Twitter pages did not do an accurate job of portraying who they actually are, especially when there are pictures and posts from when they were younger. However, there were a few students that I questioned that liked the idea, because they felt that their social media pages showed more about them then their GPA, transcript, or test scores could.
After a popular article about colleges and employers accessing applicants’ Facebook pages was published on the MSNBC’s Red Tape Chronicles, there was nearly 2,000 tweets about the subject, many in outrage. One of the top tweets about this article was from Dan Gillmor, the founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University.
According to a 2011 survey from Kaplan Test Prep, it asked 359 admissions officers from top colleges about their usage of social media in the admissions process. Nearly 20% reported that they used Google to search for their applicants and 24% went onto the applicant’s social networking pages. Looking back at a WSJ survey from 2008, only 10% of admissions looked at an applicant’s social networking sites, which means the percentage has doubled within the past three years. These percentages should have applicants concerned enough to contemplate what they post on the web, especially since 12% of admissions officers admitted that after searching and reviewing the applicant on the internet, it had negatively affected their chance of admission. Furthermore, US News accounted that some admissions officers would like to search online about applicants, but they just do not have the staff or time to do this. This could a big indication that the number of admissions officers looking at social media is definitely increasing, and it will most likely continue to do so.
Why else should students worry about their social media pages?
Scholarships – According to a recent Fastweb and NSPA survey, nearly a quarter of scholarship providers use the internet and social media to learn more about applicants. What is an even scarier statistic? A third of the providers have denied someone from receiving a scholarship because of the information that they found.
Jobs – A whopping 91% of employers use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to evaluate candidates.
Recruiters – Students may miss out on a huge opportunity at a job, college, or sports team simply because the recruiter did not like what they found on the student’s social media.
Sports – Many college coaches monitor their athlete’s social media pages. If an athlete posts something offensive to the team or university, they could either be banned from using the social media outlet or even kicked off the team.
What do you think about colleges using social media in the admissions process?
Edit: Wednesday, March 27 – The House of Representatives have ruled against the proposed Facebook user protection amendment, which would have stopped employers from asking for an applicant’s username and password. There will be no amendment added onto the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012.