The Woodgrove Outlander

Posting for Acceptance: The Modern College Application Process

Written by Daniel Alvarez, Carrie Nichols, and Chris Tuttle

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In a world marked by a constant flow of information and trends, social media has affected the way people interact, entertain themselves, and obtain their news. However, life on social media carries ramifications as certain behaviors on various sites can stand in the way of a prospective student’s aspiration of attending the college of his/her dreams. With a few searches, college administrators can observe an applicant’s social media information and decide whether or not to admit the applicant based on what they post.

According to a study performed by Kaplan Test Prep in 2016, 35 percent of 365 colleges across the United States search college applicants’ social media accounts to learn more about them and what they post. Of that 35 percent of admissions officers who check applicants’ social media, 47 percent of them said that social media had a positive effect on how they viewed the applicant, while 42 percent said that social media had a negative impact on applicants’ college admissions.

This research shows that for the majority of people, social media has benefited how their application was viewed, but the remaining 42% have suffered due to what they posted on social media. People are known to change and evolve, meaning that it is difficult to determine whether social media should weigh so heavily in determining the quality of a person’s character.

English teacher Lea Longerbeam said her nephews, who were recently applying to medical school and graduate school, were advised by college counselors to close their social media accounts.

“Due to the extremely competitive nature of admissions, their counselors advised removing all social media accounts. Even though they didn’t have anything inappropriate, they took their accounts down to be on the safe side. I guess it was good advice because they were all accepted into great universities and medical schools.”

Since the use of social media as a defining factor in an applicant’s college admission is a fairly new practice, it poses the question as to whether an admissions board has the right to take a student’s social media posts into consideration. For people today, social media is a platform to showcase what is going on in their lives, their opinions, as well as staying connected with other people across the globe.

The very core of social media is to put one’s self out there, and this can be very beneficial if what one portrays is an outstanding member of society. The problem starts when the persona a person tries to convey is not considered by an admissions board as “college material.”

Senior Lauren Heine says, “I think colleges should be allowed to check social media, because it allows them to get a better sense of who you are.”

The problem with this is best exemplified by fake and spam accounts. People only present the world with what they want the world to see. This also leads to the matter of privacy. Many accounts today are not public accounts, but rather private ones, meaning a person has to physically give access to anyone who decides to follow them, but despite this, the person is backed into a corner. It wouldn’t reflect well on the prospective student if he/she prevented a university from seeing them through the eyes of a screen. This just leads to negative assumptions, but regardless, some matters are private.

About a year ago, in April 2017, at least ten prospective students of the Harvard Class of 2021 had their admissions offers rescinded due to sexually explicit and offensive memes that were allegedly posted on Facebook in December 2016. Harvard administrative officers learned of the harmful messages in April, at which time they launched an investigation and forced the students to submit the images to the college for proof.

Amy Adler, a professor at New York University School of Law, commented to NBC News on this incident, “This seems to be a case where students exercised bad judgment and arguably Harvard may have rescinded their admission not on the content but on the students’ poor judgment.”

In the end it is a matter of choice: no matter what, the individual has the right to decide to post what they believe is appropriate and beneficial to them. Yet, with these heavy choices, social media is now a medium through which they can be watched.

Junior Liam Franco adamantly explains that anything that students post on social media reflects who they are and whether they get into a college or university.

“What that person sends to others has a huge impact on their personality and the type of person who they are. Universities will always have evidence to support their claim that if a person is not up to their word; meaning they lie, cheat, use profanity constantly, cyber bully, etc,” he says.

Mrs. Sutphin, administrator in the career center, says that students should learn and realize that the choices on social media- what they post and how they conduct themselves- affects their future college carrier. With this being said, however, students can make positive decisions on social media such as being a part of Linkedin or promoting community service efforts on social media.

“I think social media isn’t always terrible, it’s just the manner in which we use it,” she concludes.

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