Facebook affecting admissions

A recent study found admissions officials peek at students’ profiles.

by Sarah Nienaber

Students on Facebook now have more to worry about than their mom seeing pictures from last weekendâÄôs party.
A recent survey found an increasing number of college admissions officials peek at applicantsâÄô social networking profiles during the process.
Results showed 9 percent of colleges have official policies for visiting applicantsâÄô social networking profiles, and 18 percent of schools plan to set policies for it. Of those that have policies now, 55 percent of officials said they can visit the pages with little or some restriction.
The survey, carried out by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, questioned 386 admissions officials at the nationâÄôs 500 top colleges as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
This is one more reason for students to be aware of what goes on their profiles, said Dean Tsouvalas, editor-in-chief of Student Advisor, an online college search tool.
Tsouvalas said this is a hot topic at Student Advisor, and many admissions counselors across the nation have admitted to looking at studentsâÄô profiles during the admissions process. On more than one occasion students have been denied acceptance because of what was found on their page, he said.
Social media hasnâÄôt become a factor in student admissions at the University of Minnesota, but the school does have a Facebook application that allows students to sign up and receive updates from the University.
While the University Law School hasnâÄôt taken to checking applicantsâÄô profiles, âÄúwe do tell students to be aware of what they do post,âÄù Law School Admissions Director Nick Wallace  said.
âÄúWhen they start law school they are entering a professional school, and potential employers will sometimes look at studentsâÄô Facebook pages,âÄù he said.
In recent years, the Law School has emphasized preparing students for the professional world, Wallace said. A fairly new course, practice in professionalism, is offered for first-year students to help prepare them in ethical matters and areas like social networking.
People younger than 18 are less concerned about the privacy of their Facebook accounts, perhaps because they arenâÄôt as media-savvy, assistant professor Shayla Thiel-Stern said.
Thiel-Stern, who  studies the implications social media has on culture, also noted a possible generational gap. The current generation is less concerned about what people think of them, she said. A difference between cultural and social norms has developed as the current generation has grown up with social networking.
âÄúI think we are going to see the repercussions of that down the line,âÄù Thiel-Stern said, and people in positions of power will have to rethink how they view whatâÄôs put online.
When the current generation reaches management positions they will be more understanding of what is on applicantsâÄô profiles, she said.
Student Advisor recommends students âÄúlikeâÄù or âÄúfollowâÄù schoolsâÄô profiles to get insight into whatâÄôs going on at their prospective schools, Tsouvalas said.
Students can use social media as a tool to display extracurricular activities, like using a blog to show writing skills.
The survey also showed 80 percent of admissions officials had received a friend request from an applicant, or knew a colleague who had.
âÄúThe thing thatâÄôs wonderful about social media is âĦ [it] gives you the opportunity to show that you are more than a test score,âÄù Tsouvalas said.
University political science junior Kelsey Daniels  said colleges, and particularly law schools, shouldnâÄôt use Facebook as a factor during the admissions process. Law schools should be able to decide whether a candidate is qualified based on their application and its supplements, Daniels said, although she is still cautious about what goes on her profile.
âÄúFacebook is a representation of yourself just to basically anyone because anyone can see it,âÄù she said. âÄúI monitor it pretty closely out of respect for my family, the University and also the organizations I am involved with here.âÄù
Daniels, who will be applying to law school next spring, said because the process of applying can be life-changing, she will be sure to monitor her Facebook thoroughly.