Social media ‘fair game’ in admissions process

But survey finds less than a third of colleges actually look at social media profiles when making admissions decisions

April 25, 2018
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The majority of US admissions officers and prospective students think that it is “fair game” for universities to visit applicants’ social media profiles when deciding who to admit to their institution, according to two recent studies.

A survey of 388 US admissions officers found that 68 per cent thought that they could visit sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to help them decide who to offer a university place to, despite the fact that less than a third (29 per cent) said that they actually engaged in the practice, a decline from 35 per cent since last year.

A separate survey of 914 US high school students found that 70 per cent considered social media profiles “fair game” for admissions officers evaluating applicants, rather than an “invasion of privacy”, an increase from 58 per cent in 2014.

The surveys were conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, which provides preparation courses for US and UK university admissions tests.

A fifth of admissions officers (20 per cent) said that their university has an official guideline or policy in this area and, of those respondents, 33 per cent said that they were not allowed to look at social media profiles when making admissions decisions.

Nearly one in 10 admissions officers (9 per cent) added that they had revoked an incoming student’s offer of admission because of what they had found on social media.

Last year, Harvard University rescinded admission offers to 10 students after learning that they had shared offensive messages on a private Facebook messaging group.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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