College admissions officers increasingly turn to social media

Dive Brief:

  • Kaplan Test Prep's latest survey of admissions officers showed a significant increase in the portion of respondents who said they check applicants' social media accounts from the first time Kaplan asked the question in 2008.
  • eCampus News reports 40% of responding admissions officers said they look at applicants' social media profiles  ranging from rarely to often  quadruple the percentage who said the same before; and 29% search applicants on Google.
  • Admissions officers enlist social media to research a special talent, verify awards, and look into criminal records or disciplinary action, though they also research students who are up for special scholarships and follow up on tips about certain applicants.

Dive Insight:

Recruitment offices use social media to appeal students so it is perhaps not surprising admissions officers are finding reasons to check student profiles before making offers. While the process is not a standard part of admissions decisions, it seems likely the portion of admissions officers who at least rarely turn to social media will continue to rise.

Perhaps holistic admissions processes that consider the non-academic elements of a student's history, like those recommended by a recent report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, will point admissions officers to a student's online presence even more.

The concern, if this were to happen, would be the pressure on students to perform in yet another area of their lives. Already, a new application meant to expand opportunities for low-income and underrepresented students by giving them a way to start preparing for college applications as high school freshmen is being criticized for the same pressure.

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Higher Ed