The Wall Street Journal had an article stating that a number of top-ranked U.S. colleges are finding objectionable material online that hurts the chances of prospective freshmen. About a quarter of admission officers at the nation’s top 500 colleges have used websites such as Facebook and Google to vet applicants, according to an annual Kaplan Test Prep survey. Of those, more than one-third say they have found something that has hurt a student’s chance of admission, up from 12% last year. Are you using social media to gain a better understanding of your applicants before making a decision? If so, is that fair?
While the decision to post pictures, thoughts, videos, or experiences to social networking sites is personal, a single act can create far-reaching ethical consequences for potential students. Students, before you post your next brilliant thought, ask yourself one question: Do I want my grandmother to see or read my post? The answer will tell you if it’s a good idea or not. As far as schools using social media to check up on potential students, make sure you elevate the discussion about the associated risk to the highest levels of leadership. To all the admission offices reviewing the hundreds of applicants this fall, and students waiting by the mailbox, good luck and safe posting.