A wholesome Facebook profile especially important for scholarship students

by Grace

An untarnished ‘digital personality’ may be especially important for scholarship or honors college students.

A recent survey revealed that colleges are snooping online to check applicants

Nearly a quarter (24%) of admissions officials at 359 selective colleges say they used Facebook, up from 6% the previous year, and 20% used Google to help evaluate an applicant, says the survey, conducted byKaplan Test Prep….

Of survey takers who went online, 12% say what they found “negatively impacted” the applicant’s chances of admission. That’s down from 38% in 2008, when 10% said they consulted social networking sites while evaluating students. Among offenses cited: essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs and photos showing underage drinking.

Of course, not every applicant is checked.

Marthers and others say such checks are not routine — it’s too time-consuming, for one thing. But “if ever a post is brought to our attention, you can be certain we’ll check it out,” says Ray Brown, admission dean at Texas Christian University. He says he rejected one applicant who, he discovered through an anonymous tip, had posted pornographic images of herself online.

It appears you are more likely to be checked if you’re being considered for a scholarship or for a spot in a school’s honors program.  Here’s one anecdote.

After I went to a scholarship weekend at my state’s flagship school, I learned that they searched those students on facebook. They only searched the top 100 students out of the 20,000+ who applied, but if you are in elite (top 1%) of applicants at a school, you should be wary that you will probably be searched, whether on Google or Facebook or Twitter or any other site. I know one student who was up for a big scholarship at an LAC, and when she showed up for an interview they asked her about articles and studies she had posted on a website. Granted, these were all great pieces of research and intelligent discussions that she had posted, things that helped her in the admissions process, but she had not included all of it in her application and these things had been found by the ADCOM.

Shawn Abbott, an admissions officer formerly at Stanford and now at NYU confirms digital snooping.

“Though we certainly have better uses of our time than trolling Facebook for evidence of deviant behavior, if we’re prompted to look at a website posting and what we find is in conflict with our standards for admission, of course we may be influenced by that information in making admission decisions or revoking decisions already made,” he said.

Abbott cited situations in which “evidence of illegal activity, academic integrity violations and racist commentary” would prompt a revoked admissions offer. According to the Kaplan survey, 38 percent of admissions officers surveyed said applicants’ social networking sites had a negative impact on their admissions evaluation.

This makes sense to me.  If nothing else, colleges would not want to deal with the bad publicity from any case where one of their star students turned out to be a fraud and/or of poor moral character.

Some students try to evade detection.  One trend I’ve observed and read about is high school students using pseudonyms on their Facebook pages, partly to give the slip to snoopers.  For example, ‘Sarah Ann Springer’ might change her name to something like ‘Sarah Sass’.


One Comment to “A wholesome Facebook profile especially important for scholarship students”

  1. I think part of it that those privacy settings are confusing and constantly changing to new defaults. But yeah, many kids are just careless. And of course they still have the problem of being tagged in their friends’ photos and status updates.


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