Over a Quarter of College Admissions Officers Today Include Google or Facebook in Applicant Evaluations; 35% Report Discovering Information that Negatively Impacted Prospective Students’
Admissions Chances – Up from 12% Last Year
Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO)
New York, NY (October 4, 2012) – Results from Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of college admissions officers* show that schools are increasingly discovering information on Facebook and Google that negatively impact applicants’ acceptance chances. While the percentage of admissions officers who took to Google (27%) and checked Facebook (26%) as part of the applicant review process increased slightly (20% for Google and 26% for Facebook in 2011) from last year, the percentage that said they discovered something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting into the school nearly tripled – from 12% last year to 35% this year. Offenses cited included essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, alcohol consumption in photos, things that made them “wonder,” and “illegal activities.” In 2008, when Kaplan began tracking this trend, only one in 10 admissions officers reported checking applicants’ social networking pages.
“Social media used to basically mean Facebook. But the underlying trend we see is the increase in use of Google, which taps into a social media landscape that’s proliferated to include Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, blogging and other platforms — and teens today are using all of these channels,” said Jeff Olson, Vice President of Data Science, Kaplan Test Prep. “Additionally, we’re seeing a growing cultural ubiquity in social media use, plus a generation that’s grown up with a very fluid sense of privacy norms. In the face of all these trends, the rise in discovery of digital dirty laundry is inevitable.”
Olson noted, “With regard to college admissions, the traditional application — the essays, the letters of recommendation — represent the polished version of an applicant, while often what’s found online is a rawer version of that applicant. Schools are philosophically divided on whether an applicant’s digital trail is fair game, and the majority of admissions officers do not look beyond the submitted application, but our advice to students is to think first, Tweet later.”
Kaplan’s survey also found that only 15% of colleges currently have rules regarding the checking of applicants’ Facebook or social networking pages – a percentage that has remained fairly consistent over the past few years. Of schools that do have a policy, 69% said the policy prohibited admissions officers from visiting applicants’ pages – still leaving the vast majority of admissions officers with the flexibility to act at their own discretion.
Students can learn more about how to better safeguard their digital footprints at www.kaptest.com/socialmediatips.
Far more common than the use of social media to evaluate applicants is its use in recruiting potential students. Kaplan Test Prep’s survey found that 87% of colleges use Facebook for this purpose (up from 82% two years ago); 76% use Twitter (up from 56%); and 73% use YouTube (up from 56%). College admissions officers have not, however, embraced Google Plus – only 9% are using it to recruit prospective students.
Kaplan will be releasing more results from its survey in the coming weeks.
* For the 2012 survey, 350 admissions officers from the nation’s top 500 colleges and universities – as compiled from U.S. News & World Report and Barron’s – were polled by telephone between July and September 2012.
About Kaplan Test Prep
Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.
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