New York, NY (November 20, 2014) — Over a third (35%) of college admissions officers have visited an applicant’s social media page to learn more about them, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of college admissions officers.* This is the highest percentage since Kaplan first began tracking the issue in 2008, when just under one in ten admissions officers reported doing so. But even as this practice becomes more commonplace, college admissions officers are actually finding fewer things online that negatively impact applicants’ chances — just 16% reported doing so this year, down from 30% last year and 35% two years ago.
“As social media has evolved from early versions of MySpace and Facebook to a broad ecosystem of platforms and apps that are a daily part of millions of people’s lives worldwide, we’re seeing greater acceptance of social media use in the college admissions process. This means admissions officers are increasingly open to what they once viewed as a dubious practice, while teens have come to terms with the fact that their digital trails are for the most part easily searchable, followable and sometimes judged,” said Christine Brown, executive director of K12 and college prep programs for Kaplan Test Prep.
A separate Kaplan survey of over 500 high school students shows that 58% describe their social networking pages as “fair game” for admissions officers.** In fact, 35% of students said that if a college admissions officer were to visit their social networking page(s), what they found would actually help their chances of getting in. Only 3% said it would hurt their chances; 62% said it would make no difference. And even as schools have adopted social media for recruiting purposes, some savvy teens see it as another channel for promoting themselves. Kaplan’s survey also finds that while most students are indifferent to the role of social media in the admissions process, at least 18% plan to use online channels to help improve their college admissions chances.
“There’s no doubt social media has become increasingly a part of the admissions process, but students should recognize that it still plays only a peripheral role. The majority of admissions officers are not looking at Facebook for applicant information, and even those who are typically do so as an anomaly — because they were flagged, either positively or negatively, to particular applicants,” said Brown. “Admissions chances are still overwhelmingly decided by the traditional factors of high school GPA, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, personal essays and extracurricular activities. Applicants’ online personas are really a wild card in the admissions process: the bottom line for students is that what you post online likely won’t get you into college, but it just might keep you out.”
*For the 2014 survey, 403 admissions officers from the nation’s top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities – as compiled from U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between July and August 2014.
**From a Kaplan e-survey conducted in October 2014 of 520 students from across the United States, who took a Kaplan SAT course.
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. Additionally, Kaplan operates new economy skills training (NEST) bootcamps designed to provide immersive training in skills that are in high demand in today’s job market and prepare participants for hire.
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