As they say keep your friends close, and your privacy settings closer.
High school students across the country use popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to communicate with friends and family. But, can that private information be used by college administrator and future employers when applying? The Huffington Post writes that now over “80% of college admissions officers use Facebook to check out students.” Sounds like a great idea, right? However, an administrator reviewing a students Facebook page can be a backstage preview right into the personal life of the applicant revealing what no college application can.
At a glimpse, an administrator, future employer, or fellow peer can see personal photographs, interests and hobbies, friends, and even whether the verbiage of the students posts match their college essay-writing style. In many cases, this practice has led to inappropriate findings, and rejection from the school. So, the only question is, what can you do about it.
Although the most obvious answer would be to expunge yourself from social networks entirely, that’s become more and more difficult from a social standpoint. Many students simply can’t bring themselves to delete their account and lose contact with longtime friends and family. Instead, many students take the dangerous route of changing their account’s name. Time magazine reports that, “Facebook can ban such users permanently when caught, and the company encourages users to report fake accounts.” Plus, if a student is caught with their name changed on Facebook, administrators can only assume that if a student has something they needed to hide on the internet, then they shouldn’t be accepted into a school where trust guides most of the application process.
If students can’t bring themselves to press the delete button, then precautionary steps should be taken to ensure that a Facebook account won’t be used against a student. Judgement and discretion should be used by all students, including the removal of any inappropriate photos and text posts, unsubscribing to any unprofessional groups that promote illegal actives or jokes, untagging oneself from other friends photo’s that portray the student in a compromising manner, and eliminating anything on the Facebook wall that a college admissions officer should not see.
But social media doesn’t have to be the enemy. Instead of simply making the minor changes to safeguard an account, college applicants can actually use their Facebook accounts to their advantage, during the admissions process. Students can promote themselves by posting pictures that highlight a healthy social life and academic events, following other people who pursue similar interests, and joining groups that promote a positive message to the world. If approached thoughtfully, social networking sites can be one more tool to impress college admission officers.
No-matter how much of a help or hindrance, a student Facebook page proves to be, college administrators should not be able to view their pages as this is a clear violation of the students privacy. The entire practice of investigating potential students should be illegal, without their consent. Facebook’s convenient service may appeal to college administrators, but it trespasses on the student’s privacy by diving into the students personal life, and allowing colleges to see information that may negatively impact the ability of the student to gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. Although it may give the most accurate representation of a person, schools should give each student a fair chance to reveal their studious side on paper instead. High school students have enough to juggle already, between grades, sports, homework, SATs, and college applications; the last thing they need to worry about is regulating their personal Facebook page.
Keep your privacy settings on “friends only” and beware of what you post. Remember that the Internet isn’t written in pencil, it’s written in pen.