Wednesday November 13, 2013 | 08:00 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Most of you are aware of the important role that social media plays in the job search. I covered this last month in a post that you can find here. A recent article in The New York Times, "They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets.," got me thinking about the role social media plays in the college admissions process. For years now, prospective students have been researching colleges and universities via their social media accounts and online presences. What many prospective students do not know is, while you're looking at them, they're looking right back at you.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Results from Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of college admissions officers show that schools are increasingly discovering information on Facebook and Google that negatively impact applicants’ acceptance chances. These findings should certainly be sobering for high school students and their parents. For instance, 27% of admissions officers surveyed said they Google prospective students. 26% said they look up applicants on Facebook. 35% said that when checking up on a student's online presence, they found something that negatively impacted an applicant's chances of getting in, nearly tripling from 12% previous year.

So, as you can see, it's imperative that college applicants take a hard look at their social media and online profiles. Jeez, it's a good thing social media didn't exist when I was in high school or I'm quite sure I would be without a college degree today.

From The New York Times:

At Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., admissions officers are still talking about the high school senior who attended a campus information session last year for prospective students. Throughout the presentation, she apparently posted disparaging comments on Twitter about her fellow attendees, repeatedly using a common expletive.

Perhaps she hadn’t realized that colleges keep track of their social media mentions.

It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that,' Scott A. Meiklejohn, Bowdoin’s dean of admissions and financial aid, told me last week. The college ultimately denied the student admission, he said, because her academic record wasn’t competitive. But had her credentials been better, those indiscreet posts could have scuttled her chances.

Oy. Could you imagine being called out by Bowdoin's dean of admissions in The New York Times? You just know she knows it's her. Kill me now.

However, I think it's safe to say that many 16 and 17 year olds don't even realize what's appropriate and what's not in regard to their social media posts. More important, their idea of what's appropriate is likely quite different than that of a college admissions officer. Keeping this in mind, it's critical for college applicants to accept that regardless of how strong they believe their social media privacy settings to be, it's still wise to proceed with great caution. Best to keep in mind the oft-cited rule, "don't post anything you wouldn't want your grandparents to see."

So, what additional words of wisdom can parents, teachers, and trusted advisors give to college applicants? Kaplan Test Prep provides 10 ways for prospective students to manage their social media footprint here. If you're a high school senior, or someone who cares about one, I highly recommend checking out the list.

In summary, be smart. Smarts help when you want to go to college. For more reasons than one.



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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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