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Do Admissions Professionals use Social Media When Screening College Applicants?

As high school students prepare to tour colleges and eventually submit a formal application for admissions, their attention may turn to the implications of their various social media accounts on their overall chances for admission to their top schools. The good news for most students is that the content of their social networking accounts generally won’t be used as a factor when determining whether or not a student should be granted admission to the universities of their choosing. Admissions counselors are primarily concerned with a student’s potential for academic success and their contribution to the school through extracurricular activities once they arrive on campus. With that said, however, social networking profiles can be used during the admissions process if administrators find very questionable material on these sites that might paint the student as threatening, unstable, or dishonest.

Social Networking Implications: Risky Behavior Gets Noticed

Social networking sites often aren’t something that’s even viewed or checked on by admissions counselors. Their job is generally to look through all documents officially requested as part of the application process: SAT scores, official high school transcripts, letters of recommendations, admissions interviews, student athletic performance, visits to campus, and more. These allow an admissions counselor to determine the student’s value to the school in terms of extracurricular, leadership and charity and, perhaps most of all, academic performance and promise.

Social networking sites are generally not considered by admissions counselors, but the content of a student’s profile may be noticed by others in the university community. Whether it’s a current student or an administrator in a different department, it’s pretty easy to stumble upon a prospective student’s profile if it mentions the university name, their high school name, a school mascot, or the names of administrators or current students. If this is the case, the profile will merit viewing and investigation. If the content of the student’s profile is threatening, reveals any kind of mental illness or instability, or shows evidence that they may have lied on their admissions application, then the material will be reviewed and it may negatively impact the student’s chances of admission to their chosen institutions.

Positive Impacts; Social Networking Can Be an Application Enhancer

One final thing to consider is that not all social networking implications are negative. Many students are doing highly innovative things with their online presence, including organizing charitable events, bringing together diverse communities, and even burnishing their business and commerce credentials through self-owned blogs, businesses, and more. In this case, students are actually encouraged to submit their profiles and online projects as part of their admissions application. It may show a certain kind of ingenuity and aptitude that admissions counselors are particularly fond of rewarding. These types of activities may also bode well for university scholarships that center on business, charity, and other student achievements that take place outside the typical classroom or academic merit environment.

Use Social Media Sites with Caution Before, During, and After College

The nature of social networking is that it has potential both for great harm and for great benefit. Students should keep that in mind not only as they apply to college, but also as they pursue their degrees and future careers. Though social media profiles won’t necessarily affect admissions chances, it’s a good idea for students to proceed with caution and post only those things to their social networking profiles that their parents, admissions counselors, advisors, friends, and future professors, would appreciate and find acceptable.