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, but more significantly, the percentage who 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, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of college admissions officers.
Conducted between July and September 2012, Kaplan’s survey found that admissions officers frowned at offenses including essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, and alcohol consumption in photos. 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, in a Friday news release.
Related: Digital Housekeeping May Help MBA Admissions | Database: Search, Sort, Compare Online MBA Programs | School Reports: Full Details on MBA Programs | Specialties: Research MBA Concentrations
“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,” said Olson. “In the face of all these trends, the rise in discovery of digital dirty laundry is inevitable.”
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.
Far more common than the use of social media to evaluate applicants is its use in recruiting potential students. The 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.
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets