The Unigo Expert Network is a group of top education experts from across the U.S. answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school.
This week's question asks:
"Can what I post on Facebook affect my chances of getting accepted?"
To have your questions answered visit www.unigo.com/expertnetwork
"Posting on Facebook is like putting up a billboard"
Yes - what you post on Facebook can really hurt your chances of acceptance at college, finding an internship or a job. Why? Because posting anywhere on the Internet is akin to putting up a billboard on every major highway in the world; it's not private. If you post inappropriate material or denigrate others online, you are letting the world know that this is who you are. College admissions officers, residential life deans and potential employers are watching and checking. And it's not just Facebook. YouTube, blogs, Myspace - anything that identifies you is accessible. So, post the positive, eliminate the negative.
- Anne Richardson - Director of College Counseling, Kents Hill School
"Think before you do something, especially when it comes to your Facebook page"
Even if the colleges you are applying to do not currently check you out on Facebook, I have clients who are CEOs or hold other top positions in large corporations and they tell me that when a student is in college and applying for a summer internship or a job following graduation, the applicant's Facebook paged is always checked. It is never too early to make sure that your Facebook page is something you would be comfortable having your grandmother look at and smile, not look at and grimace with horror at what is available for the world to see.
- Francine Block - Founder, FEBlock.com
"Booze, Drugs, and Crime, Oh My!"
While most college admissions people don't often have time to check social network sites, in cases where there is something in a student's application that would give them pause, it does happen. I have seen Facebook photos of: obviously inebriated students guzzling hard liquor, students showing off their intricate, home-made bongs, and students posing proudly with stolen street signs. It would be wise for college applicants to go through their on-line sites and remove any photos or references to any risky or illegal activities. Party photos or friends' comments about sexual exploits do not create a good impression as well.
- Howard Verman - Sr. Associate, Strategies For College
"Your Facebook postings may serve as your unintended college interview"
While Facebook postings may seem harmless, unflattering student postings on their Facebook pages indeed have the potential for negatively impacting one's chances of gaining admission into a college or university. A college-bound student should therefore not engage in Facebook dialogue containing expletives, hate speech, or sexually-suggestive language. In like fashion, a student should not post photographs of themselves that they would be embarrassed for their parent or someone else whom they respect, to view. Admissions staff viewing Facebook pages of this type can informally make negative assumptions about your character, your fit for their institution, and ultimately, your admission to their institution.
- Yolanda Watson Spiva - Executive Director, Project GRAD Atlanta
"What is posted on Facebook can potentially hurt chances of acceptances"
It can also hinder students in keeping acceptances. As travel budgets and resources are cut in college admissions offices, many are enhancing their social media focus to connect with students. Recently, I heard two Admissions Deans discuss how posts cost students; one an acceptance and one a scholarship. One posted about an underage, illegal activity he planned on providing his freshman year; his acceptance was rescinded. The other trashed the college, disappointed that she wasn't accepted to her first choice school. She was being considered for a substantial scholarship, which was awarded to another student because of her post. Why take the risk?
- Leigh Anne Spraetz - President, Academic Futures Inc.
"With thousands of applications to read, most officers are too busy for Facebook"
Although, if you have indicated on your application that you have done something exceptional, like written a novel, invented something spectacular, or won a prestigious national award, the admission officer might Google you to verify the information. The search could direct them to your Facebook page, so be careful. Young alumni interviewers have been known to search the social networks pages of the students they are about to interview. Always remember anything you post on the internet is there forever.
- Danny Reynolds - Director of College Counseling, Palmer Trinity School
"Stop worrying about admissions counselors, and worry about parents instead!"
Most admissions counselors have neither the time nor the inclination to surf Facebook for posts by prospective students. We don't want to be "friends" with applicants and we don't want to know everything they do in their private - albeit public via social media - lives. Who does? Parents of would-be college roommates, that's who. Once housing assignments are released, many go online to check out students who will leave an indelible mark on their child. (I still remember some of the things my freshman roommate taught me.) If parents don't like what they see, they call us and demand a switch.
- Amy Greenwald Foley - Sr. Associate Director of Admissions, University of Delaware
Hear from 35 more experts - including the VP of The College Board, Dean of Admissions from University of Illinois, and more at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork
Did you clean up your Facebook profile, or at the very least, increase your privacy settings after you sent in your applications? Where do you draw the line for inappropriate posts? Let us know!
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