One of our fairthful readers asked if colleges were REALLY using facebook, etc. to check out applicants. I just had a similar discussion in the Washington Post forum, Admissions 101 (www.washingtonpost.com, go to opinions, discussion groups, Admissions 101). Here’s what I wrote:
“As a dean of admissions, I have yet to find an institution that is trolling myspace or facebook as part of the admissions process. Three reasons:
1) Admissions offices are already overwhelmed by the volume of materials they receive without going out to search for more
2) Even if they wanted to, most don’t know how to search them well -have you tried to find a specific person on myspace without already knowing everything about them?
3) There is no way to know whether the information on a student’s site was posted by them, or is in any way accurate.
I know of a handful of cases where websites or social site pages showing clear legal violations and/or hate speech were brought to a schools attention, and results of these have been mixed. The lack of lawsuits on the issue is a good testament that this is not a prevalent occurrence by any stretch of the imagination. Admissions offices, on the other hand, have always rescinded about 5% of their offers. This is usually a result of a student having a significant downturn in academic performance in their senior year. In my six years at my current institution I can think of only one case where anything but academics was involved in our decision to rescind an offer.”
Nevertheless, I always encourage students to bear in mind: what you put online can stay online…you should really avoid putting anything up that someone, even your friends, can save and that may come back to haunt you later. Picture this…just when you thought you were going to get that Supreme Court nomination, that oh so funny at the time photo of you launching a hilarious senior high school prank pops up…i will leave the rest to your very active imaginations.