College admissions slowing down on social media checks

Your first impression to a college admissions officer involves more than just an essay, a transcript and some test scores. Now that social media is a hub for posting stories, pictures and life updates, it has become a more accurate view of the “behind the scenes” in one’s life rather than just reading a boring, unoriginal essay. 

It still is debatable whether colleges should look at social media or if they should stick to grades and academics, but in the meantime, students are feverishly scrolling through their profiles to make sure admissions officers don’t find anything offensive. 

Considering how significant platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have become for the average social person, college admissions are starting to pay less attention. Because these social platforms and features operate by displaying content that either disappears or can only be seen by approved friends and contacts, college admissions are focusing less on applicants’ social media presence and returning back to their old routines. 

According to the latest report from Kaplan Test Prep, an organization that provides educational services, 364 admissions offers were surveyed from colleges and universities across the country, and only 25 percent reported that they look at applicants’ social media profiles — 40 percent less than they used to just three years ago. 

The percentage did not go down overnight. With these new advances in technology, Kaplan websites report that it may just be because admission officers are having a harder time finding users’ profiles. But, the internet is a public place — even if you set your Instagram to “private” or delete certain pictures, your media still exists somewhere. Safety and morale of the individual and what they post could be a deciding factor in college admissions. 

“Officers that did check social media and saw negative posts — including the brandishing of weapons and 'questionable language' — sometimes rescinded offers or became hesitant in accepting students,” Kaplan Test Prep stated on its website. 

When applying for internships and grad schools, Rutgers students also feel the same way.

 “It is important not to compare yourself on social media. Being original is definitely something that helps you stand out, but you should also be posting on social media as if someone is coming to come across you and hire you. A potential employer wants to see the real you, but some stuff that isn’t appropriate should be kept away,” said Assata Davis, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. 

Although social media should be kept appropriate, that should not mean posting images that are inauthentic. Being yourself is one of the most important things to do when applying for a job, college or grad school. Admissions officers want to see that you are enjoying your life rather than sitting behind a computer or TV screen. They want to see you do volunteer service, hang out with your friends or go travel, but all in good fun. 

"To be clear, the large majority of admissions officers do not visit applicants' social media sites," Yariv Alpher, executive director of research at Kaplan Test Prep, said in a release. "However, a meaningful number do, as many note that social media can provide a more authentic and holistic view of applicants beyond the polished applications. And in fact, past Kaplan surveys have shown that a majority of students themselves consider their social networking sites to be 'fair game' for admissions officers."

Evidently, college applicants should be aware of what others can find about them on social networks and if you are not sure what to post, then the best thing is to not post at all. For better or worse, social media is still an established factor, but that doesn’t mean you should hide everything. Social media is a powerful platform to present yourself, so what does your online presence tell about you?

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