Study: College admissions officers watch applicants on social media

35 percent of admission officers have looked at applicants' social media accounts

If you’re applying to colleges, you might need to think twice before posting to Facebook and Twitter.

A study from Kaplan Test Prep found college admissions officers have visited an applicant’s social media pages to learn more about them.

When Kaplan began this annual survey back in 2008, only 10 percent of college admissions officers reported viewing an applicant’s social media sites. This year it’s over one third, and these results are the highest percentage to date.

That might cause some people concern, but many students are saying let them look.

Josh Maliszewski is a senior at West Salem High School. In the fall, he plans to attend University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in hopes of playing baseball.

Maliszewski is also one of millions using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And he knows his friends aren’t the only ones looking at what he posts.

“I’d always heard that colleges would look at social media, whether it’s a Twitter or Facebook, and I think what you put on, even if it’s not bad, I really think it’s indicative of the type of person you are, your interests and what you like to do,” he said,

The Kaplan Test Prep study found 35 percent of college admissions officers have visited an applicant’s social media pages.

Maliszewski said he actually expected the number to be higher.

“Everyone in my age group, basically everyone, is on a social media site, and I think it’s a real reflection of the type of person you are by what you say and do,” Maliszewski said.

West Salem guidance counselor Lynne Brown isn’t surprised by the results either.

“I think one of the things that colleges are doing now is they want a whole person, they’re not just looking at ACT scores and class rank,” Brown said. “They want to know what type of person you are, what you’re going to give to that college as much as what you’re going to gain from that college.”

Brown said the look of their social media page is something she works on with her students.

“It’s a fine line of knowing what’s just ‘This is just for fun,’ and what’s a fine line of, ‘But wait a minute, what does this say about me?'” Brown said.

The study also found 35 percent of students said they aren’t worried about their online image. Brown hears the same thing.

“A lot of times they’ll say, ‘You can see my Facebook page, I don’t care. Anybody can read it,'” Brown said.

Maliszewski said he’s not worried because he thinks twice before clicking to post.

“I try to think, ‘OK, would I be mad if somebody else directed towards me?’ So I try to, I try to think about everything before I put it on,” Maliszewski said.

News 8 reached out to UW-L, Viterbo University and Western Technical College and all three said they do not look at a potential students social media.

A UW-L representative said the university looks at a student’s high school courses, grade point average and ACT score, all things a student is asked about in the application process.

The study found only 3 percent of high school students feel what is on their social media accounts would affect them negatively.

Almost 20 percent of students actually use their Facebook and Twitter accounts to improve their college admission chances.