College Advice: Social Networking and the Admission Process

The Unigo Expert Network is a group of top education experts from across the US answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school.
Next time your friend tags a photo of you on Facebook, you might want to ask yourself what an admissions officer would think. In this week’s column, our experts weigh in on the many ways that technology has changed the admissions game – both the good and the bad.
“How has technology changed the admissions process?” —Brad Miller, Great Falls, VA
See all 22 answers from this week’s question

A: Changes for students and admissions officers
Students wonder about admission officers lurking on Facebook, about sending links to their greatest moments on YouTube or submitting music portfolios online. Deluged with applications, many admission offices now similarly rely on new technology. They scan all incoming paper, encourage electronic applications, inform students of missing material and notify applicants of their decisions online. In a growing number of colleges, admission officers even read applications in virtual format. More significantly, while in Moneyball we see the impact of number crunching on sports, in admission offices too systems managers
increasingly influence approaches to applicant searches, diversity questions, and enrolment management. — Andrea van Niekerk – Educational Consultant – College Goals
A: Better technology only helps if you use it well
Simply put, technology has made the admissions process EASIER. It’s easier to learn about colleges and connect with their representatives. Applying online has become a breeze. Practicing and signing up for admissions tests is a snap, too. Unfortunately, it’s also easier for students to get misinformation – especially if they look in the wrong place. The ease of applying can also cause students to procrastinate, resulting in more mistakes and essays of poorer quality that may hurt their chances of admission. No matter how much technology changes the process, college admission still depends on each student’s effort in that process. — Julie Manhan – Founder – College Navigation
A: Orbiting the Giant Hairball of Technology
The college quest has evolved into a “bricks and clicks” endeavor obviously. With a big nod to Gordon MacKenzie’s book, I caution that we – students, parents, college admissions/advising professionals – should not become too enamored with the electronic admissions process. This is a time for students to contemplate on how to craft an educational experience, not sprint through a connect-the-dots race and check off a box. Young learners are not a plug to connect into a USB port, but future citizens to bring forth their talents in our society. While it may be great to use a drop down menu and select a major, I think a better, deliberate question that needs to be asked is “What do you want to learn more about?” From there, a more thoughtful college quest can move forth. — Dave Hamilton – Director of College Advising – St. Mary’s Ryken High School