How not to get into college: Attend a university’s campus information session for prospective students and, during the presentation, tweet disparaging and expletive-laden comments about your fellow attendees.
Another bad idea: Load up your Facebook profile with nasty messages about one of your high school teachers.
These are a couple examples reported in a recent New York Times article (“They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets.”) on social media and self-sabotage among young people. The Times article cites new research from Kaplan Test Prep suggesting that online scrutiny of college hopefuls is growing:
“Of 381 college admissions officers who answered a Kaplan telephone questionnaire this year, 31 percent said they had visited an applicant’s Facebook or other personal social media page to learn more about them — a five-percentage-point increase from last year. More crucially for those trying to get into college, 30 percent of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects.”
“But despite the growth in online checking, says the Kaplan report, there are fewer cases this year — 30 percent, as opposed to 35 percent last year — in the number of admissions officers who say they found something that negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances.
This may be because high school students are getting wise to this and (sometimes with the help of guidance counselors) scrambling to sanitize their social media accounts before admissions officers see them.”
Our recommendation: Keep it clean from the start. Teach students to use good judgment online so they can be proud (and safe) digital citizens.