SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— For young people looking into higher education, your next tweet or Facebook post could be hurting your chances of getting into college. No longer are grades, test scores and self essays the only measure of whether an applicant gets accepted or not.
A Kaplan Test Prep poll found that 35 percent of college admission officers had visited an applicant’s social media page. One in six said they found information that was damaging to a student’s status in getting into the college.
Vance Pascua, William Jessup University’s Dean of Admissions, said his university from time to time does vet potential students’ social media presence.
“We’re looking for if there’s anything we’d want to address post-admission decision. The student may be highly qualified and that won’t be the problem, but if they’re going to join the community we just want to make sure their lifestyle is consistent with the community,” Pascua said.
He referred to what he called “the red-cup issue”— the cups in question oftentimes used for keg parties and other types of alcoholic beverages at social gatherings, as a red flag for drinking. Other issues he looks for are depictions of violence or anything that could be illegal activity.
When asked about disparaging language used in social media posts, like ones that degrade women or those that are inflammatory because of what they’ve said about someone’s race or sexual preference; Pascua said there’s no place for that within campus culture.
Pascua said the issue becomes tricky, when it comes to admissions. Essentially if the student is admissible and you do admit them this opens the potential for a lawsuit. “If they don’t [meet admission standards] then it’s a non-issue. They just get denied admission; you don’t have to deal with it.”
However, if the student is admissible and you admit them, but then want to challenge them based on their social media presence or activity, Pascua said some colleges will meet with the student and set up a behavioral contract where they clean up their act based on evidence posted on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere.
He didn’t indicate that there were a large or even notable number of students on contracts like this, but suggested faith-related or small private colleges were known to have policies like this in place.