College Advice: Can Facebook Affect My Chances of Getting Into College?

“Can what I post on Facebook affect my chances of getting accepted?” – Derrick L., New York, NY
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Experts Expert Answers
Carolyn Blair

Counseling Services Director
Clayton High School
Anything that is in the public domain is fair game, just be careful
As the age of the admissions officers become younger and younger, Facebook and other social networks are simply part of their culture.  It used to be that admission offices would have a lot of hoops to get through to even access this information.  Now many grandparents have a Facebook account.  While there aren’t many schools actively searching students Facebook accounts for incriminating information, when you look at who is working in admission there are often many students.  Some student could be from your school of hometown.  Play this out and it wouldn’t take much for inappropriate behavior to reach the eyes of someone in an admission office.  Best-case scenario is to play it safe!
Deborah Shames

Transfer Admissions Advisor
Kaplan Leadership Program
Don’t expect privacy when posting online, everything can be found
You should have absolutely no expectation of privacy online.  Your words and pictures should not portray unethical, illegal, or unflattering behavior. Even with the privacy settings you (hopefully) place on your own account, when posting on another wall, you don’t know who might read it, save it or maliciously use it against you.  While I doubt admissions officers have the time to look you up on Facebook, why risk it.   As my mother always says, don’t put anything in writing that you would be embarrassed to have your grandmother read 10 minutes, 10 weeks, or 10 years from now!
Gwyeth Smith

President & CEO
College Quest Inc.
Facebook can show both the best and worst of you
Be smart, be vigilant, and be mature as you post on Facebook. It is important to know that many admission counselors are just a few years older than you are. All are members of the technology generation, which make lives very public. It is a wonderful vehicle for illustrating contributions you’ve made and special accomplishments you’ve enjoyed with organizations. Keep the information current and consider postings that might reflect the kind of involvement the college might expect from you as a member of their community.
Hamilton Gregg

High School Counselor
International School
Be careful, be wise and be mature
I do not specifically know of students who have been advantaged or disadvantaged by what is posted on their sites. There are plenty of stories stating that prospective schools and employers do look to see what is posted with negative outcomes. I am sure that with thousands of applicants, they look only if alerted and I have heard that some schools do actively search sites for inappropriate behavior, poor language and other alarming information. Remember that colleges and universities are looking for responsible students to “fit” into their campus.
Stephanie Meade

The Collegiate Edge
Would you let your grandmother see your Facebook page?
College admissions officers are generally way too busy for Facebook but, if they have a question or concern, they may look you up. Since many young, tech-savvy people work in admissions, and because you don’t know whom your Facebook friends know, you should never have a comment or photo visible or linkable that does not pass “the grandma test”. That means no pictures, links, or posts (even as a joke) about partying, drugs, sex, guns or anything else that could be misinterpreted by someone who does not know you. Keep it clean. An admissions officer (or grandma) may be checking!

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