Social Media – Your students should be careful about what they post and so should you!

I read a blog recently from an Independent College Advisor recently based in Charlotte, Lee Shulman Bierer of College Admission Strategies about the issue of students (and even Teachers and Counselors) posting things on Social Media that came back to haunt them.  She makes the point that most students do the right thing and you only hear about the ones who make major errors with what they post. Here is a link to her blog:

She cited a survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep ,that showed more than 40% of College Admission offices now search applicants Social Media pages (quadruple what it was in 2008 when Kaplan first asked the question). 29% of admission offices also admit to Googling applicants to learn more about them.

Here are her points on why are colleges are looking?

  • Special talents -Students who are musicians, writers, models or poets will often invite admissions officers to view their social media presence in their applications. According to Kaplan’s research, 42 percent of admissions officers reported an increase in such invitations compared to two years ago.
  • Award verification – There is no formal “fact-checking” process when students submit their applications. Colleges generally take at face-value whatever honors students list and the time commitments and leadership roles students state in their extracurricular activities and work experiences. However, a mention of a particularly distinguished award will sometimes trigger a search.
  • Negative stuff – Some admissions officers say that if an applicant mentions they have a criminal background or a record of disciplinary action, they will do some online digging to get more details.
  • Scholarship applications – Students applying for special scholarships can come under greater scrutiny, as schools want to ensure those receiving the scholarships are fully deserving; extra due diligence can come in the form of online checking.
  • The worst reason a student’s social media presence may be viewed is referred to as “Admissions Sabotage.” The ugly truth is that colleges admissions officers are occasionally anonymously alerted to social media postings by students or parents who are trying to sabotage another student’s chance of being accepted; presumably with the hope that they will instead be accepted. Admissions officers will typically follow-up to verify any accusation.
  • Ms. Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. You can send admission related questions to her at or visit her website