28% of College Admissions Officers Look at Applicants’ Social Media

On the contrary, 33% of admissions officers consider it an “invasion of privacy,” according to a new survey from Kaplan.

28% of College Admissions Officers Look at Applicants’ Social Media

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A new survey from Kaplan shows 67% of college admissions officers believe looking at prospective students’ social media pages to help make decisions about who gets accepted is “fair game.”

Five years ago, the same survey found only 57% of admissions officers felt it was an okay practice to follow. However, while the majority feel it is acceptable, only 28% say they have actually done it, according to a press release. Many say they don’t have the time to do it and others say they obtain enough information by “evaluating prospective students on the traditional admissions factors like GPA, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, admissions essays, and extracurriculars,” stated Christine Lilley, executive director of college admissions programs at Kaplan.

“Kaplan has been tracking the role of social media in the college admissions process since 2008 and it’s long struck us that there’s a wide disconnect between the percentage of admissions officers who say they’ve visited applicants’ profiles and separately, those who say it’s within their rights to do so,” Lilley continued. “Our research additionally shows that when admissions officers do visit applicants’ social media pages that they are much likelier to find something that negatively impacts their chances of getting in than helping them.”

In 2017, Harvard rescinded 10 acceptances due to concerns about sexually explicit memes and hate speech posted on social media, Expert Admissions reports. In Dec. 2020, a newly admitted student reportedly withdrew from the University of Tennessee under pressure from admissions officers following the discovery of a Snapchat video that included a racial slur.

On the contrary, the survey found that 33% of admissions officers consider viewing applicants’ social media “an invasion of privacy and shouldn’t be done.”

The new results come on the heels of a recently released Gallup survey that found 51% of U.S. teens report spending at least four hours a day using social media apps.

Kaplan’s survey was distributed to admissions officers from 205 national, regional, and liberal arts colleges and universities between August and December 2023.

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