Kaplan Test Prep Survey: College Admissions Officers Say Social Media Increasingly Affects Applicants’ Chances

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)

Press contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTestNews @KaplanSATACT

New York, NY (February 10, 2017) – Kaplan Test Prep’s latest survey of more than 350 college admissions officers from across the United States finds that while the percentage of admissions officers who check applicants’ social media profiles has dipped (35% versus 40% last year), a greater percentage of those who do check say social media has influenced their views on applicants*. Of the 35% of admissions officers who say they check social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about applicants, 47% say that what they found has had a positive impact on prospective students — up from 37% last year. On the flip side, 42% say that what they found had a negative impact, up from 37% last year. Kaplan’s survey also found that of the admissions officers who use social media to help them make decisions, 25% do so “often” — more than double the 11% who said they did it “often” in last year’s survey.

What exactly are the kinds of things admissions officers say they have found that positively impacted applicants’ admissions chances? It ranged from community building to winning awards:

  • One admissions officer said, “One student described on Twitter that she facilitated an LGBTQ panel for her school, which wasn’t in her application. This made us more interested in her overall and encouraged us to imagine how she would help out the community.”
  • Another admissions officer shared, “There’s such a negative stereotype of social media that people often forget about the positive effects of it. One student had won an award and had a picture with their principal on their personal page, and it was nice to see.”
  • “One young lady started a company with her mom, so it was cool to visit
    their website,” added another admissions officer.

Some of the things college admissions officers found that negatively impacted applicants’ admissions chances ranged from bigotry to illegal activity.

  • “We found a student’s Twitter account with some really questionable language. It wasn’t quite racist, but it showed a cluelessness that you’d expect of a privileged student who hadn’t seen much of the world. It really ran counter to the rest of her application,” said one admissions officer.
  • “A young man who had been involved in a felony did not disclose his past, which is part of our admissions process. His social media page shared his whole story. If he had been forthcoming, we would not have rescinded his acceptance offer, but we had to.”
  • One admissions officer said that pictures of a student “brandishing weapons” gave him pause when deciding whether to admit the applicant.

“To be clear, the large majority of admissions officers do not visit applicants’ social media sites. However, a meaningful number do, as many note that social media can provide a more authentic and holistic view of applicants beyond the polished applications. And in fact, past Kaplan surveys have shown that a majority of students themselves consider their social networking sites to be ‘fair game’ for admissions officers,” said Yariv Alpher, executive director of research, Kaplan Test Prep. “That said, college applicants need to be aware of what others can find about them on social networks and make sure it reflects well on them. For better or worse, social media has become an established factor in college admissions, and it’s more important than ever for applicants to make wise decisions. If you’re not sure what to post, ask a parent or high school counselor. If you’re still not sure, then the best course of action might be to not post it at all.”

For a short video illustrating the survey’s findings, click here. And to read a blog post on Kaplan’s college admissions blog College: Admission Possible, visit here.

For more information about Kaplan Test Prep’s survey, please contact Russell Schaffer at 212.453.7538 or russell.schaffer@kaplan.com.

*For the survey, 365 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 2016.

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 100 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.

                                                                                            # # #