When seniors submit their college applications, they’re no longer just a name on a paper. With a quick Google search or visit to Facebook, admissions officers can bring their applicants to life.
Recent research by Kaplan Test Prep suggests that this sort of social media snooping is at its highest level yet. Although this may sound like an added obstacle for students going through an already complicated admissions process, our generation knows it’s nothing new. In fact, we’ll probably experience the same thing when we apply for jobs.
Students who are intelligent about posting online have nothing to worry about – especially if their profiles are private. Public posts, however, can be seen by anyone on the Internet. Thus, admissions officers have the right to look at what applicants are doing online.
It’s understandable for colleges to be wary of admitting someone who engages in illegal behavior or doesn’t uphold standards that the university promotes. However, there are ways in which one’s online presence can be misleading. Admissions officers might come across a fake profile or another person with the same name, which misrepresents the applicant.
Moreover, if a university uses unethical methods to gather online information about a student, such as hacking, an increasingly commonplace practice becomes an invasion of privacy. If students have taken measures to make sure that their profiles are private, then the colleges shouldn’t take extraordinary measures to hack into these accounts. It’s not only about principle but logic. The university’s concern is how a student would represent the institution, so a private profile should be none its business.
When universities aim to paint a clearer picture of prospective students, they should make their intentions clearer as well. Giving notice about the potential review of applicants’ social media profiles would allow schools to appear more transparent about their policies while also deterring students who would not have been the best candidates.
That puts the responsibility on students to be smart on social media. It’s easy to tarnish a reputation with a simple photo. But it’s just as easy to portray yourself in the best light: Share links conveying your interests and post statuses demonstrating a positive attitude.
Our online identities are a direct reflection of our actions in real life. Whether we’re applying for college or careers, it’s our full-time job to maintain our reputations online.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.