Separate social life from academic life
Given the ever-increasing prevalence of social networking sites, it is incredibly difficult to avoid public scrutiny in the digital age. More than 80 percent of college admissions officers look at social networking sites when recruiting potential students, according to a Kaplan survey. Sites such as Facebook should not come into the considerations of college admissions boards. It is not — or should not — be a student's job to always present some sort of college-friendly image in all aspects of their life. A social networking site should be a place where people can be themselves. Students should not have to worry about whether their Facebook profile presents the most professional, positive image to colleges.
A person's Facebook is not by any stretch of the imagination an accurate representation of their academic abilities. There are plenty of students whose Facebook pages are riddled with profanity, crude humor and party pictures but that does not mean those students are bad people or that they perform poorly in school. In fact, such students may very well be at the top of their class. People have to remember that there is not necessarily any correlation between a person's academic life and their social life.
The constant fear that a college official might scan your Facebook and find objectionable content forces people to present sanitized versions of themselves on the Internet. As social networking sites become more necessary for people to stay connected with their friends and families, people are simultaneously losing the ability to be real. College admissions officers — and any other authority figures who may be checking up on their charges via Facebook — have to remember that students cannot pretend to be model citizens 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students should be free to pursue whatever social activities and lifestyles they desire.
Also, when colleges access Facebook profiles of potential students, they gain access to information that students may not want to give. For example, say a student declines to disclose their race, ethnicity or religion on a college application. Thanks to Facebook, college admissions officers can gain access to that information, regardless of whether the student wants to keep it private. This sort of unrestricted access could invite unfair discrimination from admissions officers. Also, for example, a student's Facebook page could be hacked by friends and an unsavory status update could be posted as a harmless prank. This could reflect poorly on that student, even if they had no part in it. In a perfect world, college admissions officers would not even consider Facebook when recruiting students. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from perfect. So, students, remember to take full advantage of the privacy options on social networking sites. The further away from the public eye you hide yourself, the better.