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Social media profiles have little bearing on college admission decisions


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

During the college admissions process, students are often advised to think carefully before posting potentially harmful content to their social media profiles. If you have made the faux pas of posting off-color or questionable material, take heart; recent data suggests that many college admissions officers do not scrutinize prospective candidates' online presence during the application process, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Off-limits
The news source reported that, according to a forthcoming report due to be published by Kaplan Test Prep, fewer than one in three college admissions officials look at students' social media profiles as part of the application process. Although this figure has risen from the roughly one-in-five reported in a similar study conducted in 2011, the findings of the latest report indicate that for many admissions officers, reviewing every students' online presence is impractical and for some, unethical.

"That's their private space," Richard Shaw, dean of admissions at Stanford University, told the news source. "I just think it's the wrong thing to do. Imagine if we could remove ourselves to an age when people wrote wonderful letters back and forth. We wouldn't be searching through that. So I think it's wrong to do just because it's there."

In addition to privacy concerns, many admissions officials believe that merely performing an online search for a prospective candidate could potentially compromise the integrity of the admissions process, while others indicated that doing so was largely impractical from a time management perspective.

Toeing the line
While social media profiles do not play a big role in the college admission process, many employers and job applicants believe that online conduct and the material prospective applicants post online play a significant role during the post-graduation job search.

According to Persona, an online reputation management company, 71 percent of students polled in a recent survey think that their Facebook profiles are either "influential" or "very influential" when searching for that elusive first job after graduation.

Despite the perceived importance of maintaining an appropriate online presence, fewer prospective job seekers bother to delete inappropriate content from their profiles, with more than half of students surveyed stating they either never delete potentially harmful posts or images, or do so very rarely.

"Without precautions in place, social media can ruin the job hunt and damage your reputation and credibility," said Lee Sherman, founder and CEO of Persona. "The last thing you want to do is raise concerns among recruiters in this competitive job market."

Sherman suggests utilizing Facebook to your advantage by using your posts to highlight your personality, personal experiences and talents. He also recommends using Facebook as a networking tool in the job search.

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