Apr. 23, 2014

Why information you post online should be fair game for college admissions officers

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November 5, 2012

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In today’s cut-throat world of college admissions, it seems like just about everybody has a 4.0 grade point average, 10 varsity letters and a key to the city. In order to differentiate among applicants, admissions officers are increasingly turning to the Internet for help. According to Kaplan Test Prep, 27 percent of admissions officers use Google, and 26 percent use Facebook to help in the decision process when choosing prospective students.

By conducting online research about applicants, admissions officers are helping everyone in the long run. A quick Google search could yield information about awards an applicant has won or service projects they were a part of that they neglected to mention in their application. It could also add a lot more character to an application. Instead of just knowing that an applicant lettered in football, admissions officers could find out that the applicant was an all-district quarterback. Admissions officers could also find content in the form of blogs, videos or other online content that could give the officer a more complete picture of that individual.

An Internet search could also reveal, however, that an applicant is involved in activities the school might not condone. Pictures providing evidence of substance abuse and activities of that nature are an easy way for an admissions officer to weed out candidates that might not be suitable for admission.

Is this practice a violation of privacy? Absolutely not. Anything posted on the Internet can be accessed by anyone anywhere. If there’s something you don’t want people to see, it takes minimal effort to take it down — or you could just prevent it from being posted in the first place.

When it comes down to it, you’re the one in control of what shows up when people Google your name. If you don’t want everyone to see those pictures of you doing a keg stand last weekend, you have the option to not post them to Facebook. You could, at the very least, change your privacy settings so a random passerby can’t see.  If you’re ashamed because you like to t@Lk LyK3 tHI5, you have every right not to do that. Or if that’s too much, you could just abstain from using social media.

Perception is reality. There’s no feasible way for college admissions officers to get to know every applicant personally but through the Internet they can get a pretty good idea.

Email Stephen Gricoski at spgricoski@email.wm.edu.

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