For many high school students both winter and spring break are times to relax, be with family, and take your mind off school. However for many seniors, this time will be spent filling out last minute college applications and stressing over the possible acceptance letters coming through the mail. Their fate rests in the hands of college admissions offices, and while academic performance plays a huge role in their decisions, these offices may have just found an additional determining factor in their overall admissions process.
Earlier this year, Kaplan Test Prep released a survey conducted on the connection between college admissions offices and social media. Kaplan surveyed over 350 U.S. college admissions officers, and found that 35% look at certain students’ social media accounts when considering applicants.
Fair Lawn High School Statistics Teacher Marco Infante stated that the statistics contained little bias, and, therefore, were valid.
“I would trust the statistic overall, but context is key.” said Infante. “The article doesn't indicate whether a random selection was done, which could lead itself to a selection bias if the sampled colleges aren't representative of the entire population. The article only surveyed admission officers from top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities. In short, I would trust the statistic, but only through the lens of the top tier, liberal universities.”
The recent attention towards social media review by colleges has caused High School Guidance Counselors to adjust their advice towards seniors.
“When filling out college applications, we remind students to use an appropriate email address and to keep their social media accounts private. As our society is becoming more social media centered, it is important for both students and staff to become educated on how our information is viewed and taken into consideration,” notes Fair Lawn High School Guidance Counselor Kara Popadics.
Some argue this tactic is a positive factor for students, as it can allow colleges to view how well-rounded the applicant is outside of the classroom.
“With a simple profile search, colleges can see the social subjects that are important to me, like veganism and climate change,” says Fair Lawn High School senior Daniella Gostev. “There is more to me than what can be found on a transcript. Although the common application questions and essay do help to further describe me, social media gives me a platform with more room for free thought.”
Others claim it is an invasion of privacy, a restriction on the First Amendment, and could skew an applicant the wrong way at the last minute.
“I think it really limits our freedom of speech,” stated FLHS Senior Roy Ghivoni. “I’m filtering what I post and comment on peoples’ pictures just because I’m worried about what they (colleges) are going to think about it.”
The college officers in the survey who take social media into consideration are just as split on the issue. 47% of these officers said social media is viewed in a positive light for applicants.
A tool that was once used to keep in touch with long lost friends and relatives is now being used to possibly determine a students future. This evolution of social media has certainly narrowed the spectrum of acceptable posts. Many, including Popadics, are trying to help warn students of this fact.
“While there are many great things that social networking sites can offer students, I would remind them to think twice before they post something that is not representative of who they are.”
It seems the best way to present yourself to colleges in today’s world is to find a happy balance between your report card, extracurriculars, and social media activity.
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