Do colleges or admissions people really look at our Facebook profiles?
This is a great question because the issue has been in the news lately. Recent reports focused on employers asking applicants to log into their Facebook pages during the interview process allowing the company to evaluate the applicant’s comments, pictures, and private posts.
Will college admissions officers access your online profile (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.)? They can, but probably won’t.
If you consider the thousands of applications the typical admissions officer faces in a year, they are so busy reading the things you sent…your transcript, your scores, your essays, your list of activities…that they don’t really have time to spend a lot of time Googling you. It is highly unlikely that the admissions office will check out all of your profiles and your online information.
There have been some instances, however, where students have negatively impacted their chances by having questionable information online. Especially in cases of high profile situations, universities take more time to evaluate applicants. If you are in contention for the top scholarships or will represent the university in a high profile way, such as athletics, the university may invest time to dig into your background, including your online presence.
In any case, don’t put things online that you wouldn’t be ready to put on the front page of the newspaper. This means no inappropriate pictures, foul language, off-color jokes, or mean-spirited comments.
Students need to remember to watch comments made online. It is not unusual to have a student present him or herself as sweet and charitable in college applications. Then you look at some of the things that person says online and learn he or she is mean spirited, bigoted, or prejudiced.
Don’t forget the photos! Inappropriate pictures may be defined differently by different people, so let me make some clarifications. No risqué pictures. Everybody should be fully clothed. You don’t want any pictures that would show illegal activity and for most teenagers this means alcohol or drug use. Remove the picture of you at the party with all of the plastic cups; don’t leave it up to my imagination to decide what is in those cups or whether you were drinking it.
Be aware of what you post online. Whatever you present online has to be appropriate for all audiences. While very few colleges and universities will look at your profile on sites like Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter, it is becoming more common for employers to check out applicants online before hiring. Get in the habit of maintaining a positive public profile.