OK, I’m back. Sorry to be gone so long right when you all were in the midst of your applications, but hey, it happens. I was off in Japan and Korea where Mason is incredibly popular, and came back to a FLOOD of early action applicants screaming for attention. Also, thanks to over 4,000 of you who attended our Fall Showcase (and especially to those of you who took the time to thank me for the blog, and especially the family who stood in the rain just to tell me they like it, and no your matching sweatshirts weren’t as geeky as you thought they were!). Coming soon to the blog – updates on early action, loads of paper in admissions, how to get your documents matched, can you submit stuff late, what to do if you get denied, what to do if you get waitlisted, and answer to all of life’s questions…and yes, I’m just that good).
Before I get to all that useful stuff, however, the powers that be at admissions.com/monster.com have been bugging me to write “something about facebook and how it gets used in admissions. And maybe you could make it funny.”
You hard core readers will, of course, recognize that I already wrote that article over a year ago. On the other hand, that makes it FAR easier to write it again, since I can just copy myself. Better yet, the post on the blog was really just a copy of 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 routinely 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 Admissions offices, on the other hand, have always rescinded about 5% of their offers.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.”
Bear in mind, there have been some really disturbing articles about admissions folks finding stuff in Facebook since I wrote my last post. This problem seems to occur in three ways: 1) incredibly bright students stupidly link to a friendly admissions officer or dean, and forget that they’re linked, or are too dumb to realize that in Facebook world even the pictures your friend’s tag will pop up in anyone’s home page that you’ve friended, and so accidentally force the admissions officer to see you doing keg stands, facing said admissions officer with a choice about whether to do anything about it. 2) Scary helicopter parent actually sabotages you by encouraging admissions officers to check out your Facebook page and see all the depravity evidenced there, or 3) Creepy admissions officers stalk you.
I find this all especially disturbing since the admissions office, in a fit of self interest, is unlikely to open themselves to liability by actually TELLING you they saw anything, and may not even bother to find out if the picture is legitimate. Since anyone can post and tag a picture of you, real or fake, this poses some serious problems. A few officers I’ve talked to will call you if they are alerted to something objectionable and give you a chance to defend yourself, but not all.
What’s the result – make your Facebook PRIVATE and don’t link to creepy admissions officers. And delete any tags as fast you can since not only do you not want them to affect admissions, you really don’t want them out there later when you try to run for president (although by then, maybe that helps?). And in the end, don’t worry too much – we really don’t have time to be stalking you on Facebook. At least we shouldn’t. Now I have to go – I haven’t updated my status in HOURS! Be seeing you!