CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As students prepare to head back to class this fall, a study released shows that more than two-thirds of colleges say it’s “fair game" to check out an applicant’s social media profiles.
Kaplan’s Test Prep survey of more than 900 high school students finds that students agree that it’s OK for admissions officers to look at their profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as part of the admissions process.
Claire Kirby, director of admissions at UNC Charlotte, said social media is not part of the application process. However, a student may direct the admissions office toward a profile to showcase more of their work or achievements.
“If they’re applying for one of our creative programs, they’ll share, you know, a video of them in a competition, or they may share some things that may give you a little more insight into their background creatively,” Kirby said.
Academic achievement comes first in the application process but Kirby said she would encourage students to be mindful of their future goals when posting online.
“I just encourage students to always think about what they’re sharing and what the impact of that could be down the road,” she added.
April Smith, president and founder of Social Ape Marketing, said she would advise students to do a social media cleanse and take an inventory of their posts back to the very beginning before applying for colleges.
“Delete any content that is offensive or would be inappropriate, so no curse words, no photos with alcohol, things like that,” Smith said.
To make a positive statement on social media, Smith said students should think about keeping their profiles public to allow admissions officials to see a portfolio, volunteer work or other parts of their personality.
“I think creativity goes a long way, also being able to show work ethic, any kind of volunteer efforts that you’ve also done, it would be really helpful,” Smith added.
While parents may be concerned about their teens using social media, Smith said it’s important that parents know what their teens are posting and start to view these platforms as a positive.
“Social media marketing and social media platforms won’t be going away any time soon, so I think parents should embrace it,” Smith said. “But learn a way to keep an eye on the content their children are posting.”
NBC affiliate WRAL in Raleigh reports admissions officials at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Appalachian State say they do not look at social media when examining applicants.
Duke University said admissions officials generally don’t look at a student’s social media accounts but if a student includes a link to their profile, they would follow the link.
An admissions official with North Carolina State University said there are instances when an online post could affect a student’s chance of admittance.