Commentary

More College Admissions Officers Checking Social Media

As more employers are turning to social media to vet job candidates, colleges and universities are doing the same for prospective students, according to Kaplan, which recently conducted a survey of around 400 college admissions officers around the country.

The proportion of college admissions officers who check the social media profiles of applicants has quadrupled over the last decade, from 10% in 2008 to 40% today, Kaplan found. But they’re not just looking for negative factors that might disqualify an applicant: 42% of admissions officers said applicants actually invited them to look at the profile to demonstrate a special talent, for example in music, art, writing, or modeling, and 37% said the things they’ve found have positively impacted an application.

The same percentage said they social media had a negative impact on applications. Negative factors discovered on social media can include criminal activity, photos of drug or alcohol use, and racial prejudice, among others.  

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Other reasons cited by admissions officers for checking social media were to verify awards or citations; to find out more about any criminal record or disciplinary action mentioned by an applicant; and for applicants seeking special scholarships, including to ensure recipients are truly deserving.

On a rather troubling note, some admissions officers mentioned anecdotally that they have checked social media because of an anonymous tip pointing to inappropriate behavior, in what Kaplan refers to as “competitive admissions sabotage.” Yikes!

Yesterday I wrote about a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, which found that 43% of employers are using social media or search to screen job candidates, and 36% have rejected job applicants based on information gathered from social media or through an online search, including evidence of illegal activity or discrepancies with their job applications.

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