Applying to Schools? Watch That Facebook Post

(Original stories at AllFacebook here, here, here and here.)

This is the time of the year when students start applying to college or graduate school. As you consider the costs and benefits of going for more school and check off the list of things to get done for your applications, be sure to include “Clean up Facebook page.”

Graduate Admissions Officers Frown Upon Facebook Use

Posted by David Cohen on August 3rd, 2011 1:36 PM

Kaplan Test Prep continues to warn students to be cautious about their use of social networks, including Facebook — and graduate school applicants are the intended audience for the latest such warning.

Kaplan conducted a phone survey of 123 of the top 200 graduate programs in education, engineering, psychology, and public administration, as designated by U.S. News & World Report, in May.

Admissions officers were asked if they felt that it was appropriate for students to use social networks such as Facebook to reach out to graduate schools, and 65 percent responded that doing so would be inappropriate.

In addition, 29 percent of the admissions officers who were permitted to visit applicants’ social networking pages rejected applicants due to content found on those pages.

Social media questions were actually part of a survey was focused on evaluating the new format for graduate school admissions test, the GRE , which debuted this week.

Applying To College? Mind Your Facebook Page

Posted by David Cohen on September 22nd, 2011 1:48 PM

It’s not just admissions officers for graduate business schools that are probing applicants’ social media accounts: A new survey from Kaplan Test Prep found that 24 percent of undergraduate admissions officers have poked around in a similar fashion.

That 24 percent figure was up from 10 percent in 2008, when Kaplan first began tracking the tracking of applicant’s social networking sites. The test-prep firm added that 20 percent of undergraduate admissions officers have also Googled applicants.

Kaplan believes the 24 percent number should actually be higher, as some respondents said that while they personally did not visit applicants’ social media pages, other colleagues in their offices had done so.

A total of 12 percent of respondents who admitted to probing via social media also said things they discovered in the process had a negative impact on applicants’ admissions chances, with red flags going up for actions including plagiarism, use of profanity, photos of alcohol consumption, and illegal activities.

Kaplan vice president of research Jeff Olson said:

There’s definitely a growing acceptance by college admissions officers in the practice of checking applicants’ digital footprints, but for context, these checks are not routine and tend to happen because of a specific trigger in a particular situation, like an anonymous tip or a posting on an online forum. That said, college applicants need to be particularly mindful of what they post, and may even want to search online to make sure their digital footprint is clean.

On admissions officers actually using Facebook themselves, Olson added:

The growing role of social media in the college admissions process poses potential pitfalls, but also many plusses for applicants. For example, a college’s official admissions page on Facebook allows it to reach prospective students in an environment in which teens are comfortable or expert. They can take virtual campus tours, learn about academic programs, and find out important admissions statistics like the average SAT or ACT scores for accepted students.

ALERT: 1 In 4 MBA Admissions Offices Probe Facebook

Posted by Jackie Cohen on September 12th, 2011 4:20 PM

More than one out of every five graduate business school admissions offices visit applicants’ social networking accounts to learn more about them.

And 14 percent of those who do such research have said they’ve discovered things about a prospective student that negatively impactedtheir candidacy.

These revelations were nestled in Kaplan Test Prep’s latest annual survey of 265 graduate business school admissions offices.

While this study hardly focused on social media, questions about the topic drew some alarming responses. For instance:

  • 27 percent of admissions officers have Googled an applicant to learn more about him or her;
  • 22 percent said they visited an applicant’s Facebook page or other social networking profile for the same reason.

While social media content can have a negative impact on an applicant’s candidacy, it’s not enough on its own to make or break an admission.  The biggest application killers, according to Kaplan, are:

  • A low admissions exam score, 58 percent;
  • A low undergraduate grade point average, 24 percent; and
  • Lack of relevant work experience, 12 percent.

Graduate business schools seem to have the most conservative stances on social media out of any type of academic admissions offices, and presumably reflect trends among prospective employers. Applicants ought to think of all this as a dress rehearsal for a job search.

Not using the privacy settings on Facebook can have repercussions on one’s career and academic pursuits — but unfortunately many people will interpret findings like Kaplan’s as a reason to censor themselves altogether rather than make use of the ample privacy options that can keep prospective employers and schools from finding posts, photos and other potentially sensitive material.

1 In 3 Law Schools Eye Applicants’ Facebook Profiles

Posted by David Cohen on October 24th, 2011 1:59 PM

First, the folks at Kaplan Test Prep warned law school students of illegal content on their Facebook pages.

Then, Kaplan turned its attention to applicants to graduate schools, warning them that 65 percent of admissions officers who responded felt that using social networks, including Facebook, to reach out to those institutions would be inappropriate.

Next up on Kaplan’s list: Undergraduate admissions officers, with the educational services provider reporting that 24 percent of them had probed applicants’ social media accounts.

Now, Kaplan is back to law school, reporting that 37 percent of admissions officers at the top law schools across the United States have examined the Facebook pages or other social media pages of applicants.

Do you sense a pattern here?

Kaplan also found that 32 percent of admissions officers who admitted to fishing around applicants’ social networking pages found “something that negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances.”

Comparing the law school results with those of other institutions, Kaplan said just 24 percent of college admissions officers and 22 percent of business school admissions officers have explored applicants’ Facebook pages.

When it comes to discovering something that had a negative impact, the numbers were just 12 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Why are law schools more thorough? Kaplan Director of Pre-Law Programs Jeff Thomas said:

These findings make sense in context with what we consistently hear from law school admissions officers, which is that while admissions are based on high LSAT scores, strong GPAs, and compelling personal statements, an overarching theme to the entire application is whether an applicant is able to exercise good judgment. Clearly, an applicant’s digital trail can be an indicator of whether or not he or she possesses this quality.

Despite jokes and negative stereotyping of lawyers, the reality is that the legal community takes ethics among its members very seriously. You not only have to be accepted to a state bar to practice law, but once you are admitted, unethical behavior can lead to your disbarment, stripping you of your ability to practice. Not many other professions have that kind of enforceable code of conduct, so it’s natural that law schools screen more stringently and more often.

Bottom line: What Kaplan is trying to say is that whether applying to college, graduate school, law school, business school, beauty school, or the school of hard knocks, mind the content of your pages on Facebook and other social networks, and take advantage of privacy controls. To reinforce the message, here is its list of 10 Ways to Manage Your Social Media Footprint. Now don’t make Kaplan tell you again.

Do you like this blog? Become a fan on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter@SocMediaGaffes! Follow Nicholas on Twitter @nicholas_cheong.

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Author: Nicholas

Experienced Mortgage Banker in the Denver metro area.

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