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Does Your Social Media Affect Chances of Getting Accepted Into College?

Shannon Christensen, Writer

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In recent years, the rise of social media in teens and young adults has created an opportunity for colleges to know the applicant on a more personal level. While it sometimes helps the student show a more personal side, other accounts can almost demolish a person’s character.

In a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey, 35 percent of more than 350 college admissions officers polled reportedly looked at any applicant’s social media account routinely to learn more about them. Recently, there have been more of these surveys and more research after incidents in which a student’s social media was crucial to their admissions.

In April, Harvard University revoked the acceptances of ten admitted freshmen because of a private Facebook group started by the students; the group revealed several offensive and highly inappropriate “memes” submitted by the group members.  While social media has been looked at increasingly in college admissions for a few years now, this seems to be the first major news story of students actually having their acceptance rescinded.

In the Kaplan survey, forty-seven percent of the officers said that the findings had a beneficial outcome for applicants, while 42 percent said there was a negative impact. Many high school counselors are aware of this: making sure the students know that whatever they write online might be monitored and to be careful with certain comments on the web. New Milford High School guidance counselor Mary Bilali says, “we try to tell seniors that when the admissions letter comes, you’re accepted, but it is still contingent on your final transcript which includes grades, school record, and elements like social media … it can show poor character, bad judgement, and they want a campus filled with content students.”

In light of these new studies, people are trying to be more progressive in finding ways to show colleges positive traits and works through social media. Founded in 2014, ZeeMee is an app created to connect students to certain colleges and universities, showing them things outside of their applications. Students can post videos, essays, portfolios, photos, or other materials to impress the admissions officers. Mrs. Bilali explains, “they need to be responsible because they are given a lot of independence, they have to be on their own and have to make good decisions so that they can do the same in college; at the end of it all, the school itself could be held responsible for the person and certain things posted due to poor decision making.”

Although this is true, with certain situations like the Harvard students, people question the difference of public social media and private accounts/groups.

When the admitted students created the “meme” group, it was a private Facebook group entitled “Harvard Memes for Horny Bourgeois Teens”. While the content of the group was very disturbing and graphic, there is controversy over the revoking of their acceptances because of the fact that it was private and only seen by people following the page. Some people argue that freedom of speech in a private group is protected, while others point out Harvard’s name in the title, calling attention to poor humor of Harvard’s own.

Whether you have multiple public accounts or try to stay away from social media, it’s important to remember that even though it is not the biggest factor in admissions, it could turn out to affect a lot. For seniors, creating new public accounts on Facebook or ZeeMee could be a great idea to show what your resume and transcript do not. However, be aware that everything online is reachable and think about what your dream college would say if you tweeted something you’re hesitant on going public with.

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The student news site of New Milford High School, New Milford, New Jersey
Does Your Social Media Affect Chances of Getting Accepted Into College?