Facebook: friend or Foe?

Submitted by ashley on Sun, 09/25/2011 - 9:15pm

Your Digital Personality


            If you think that your Facebook wall postings, online photo albums and Twitter feeds are private, you might be in for a rude awakening. Recently, the role of social networking sites in the college admissions game has been generating significant press, and although some college admissions officers claim that doing digital background checks on applicants is too tedious to be worthwhile, this practice is still gaining momentum. And just because googling an applicant isn’t a standard procedure in the evaluation process doesn’t mean that it can’t, or won’t, happen to you. Here are some tips so that you can avoid sabotaging yourself:


1.     Erase any photos you might have posted that contain underage drinking, violence, profanity, nudity or drug use. Even if you were not involved, proximity to these types of activities makes you just as culpable. The dean of admissions at TCU (Texas Christian University) rejected a student after he learned that she had posted “pornographic” images of herself online, so don’t take any chances. It may seem self evident to refrain from posting explicit photos in the first place, but you’d be surprised what people can leak, hack and get their hands on these days. If a picture exists, assume it might be found.


2.     On that note, untag any images in the albums of your friends and acquaintances that might portray you in a negative light. You might even want to ask people to remove certain pictures. Even if you have strict privacy settings in place, remember that there are still ways to access your information in this day and age.


3.     (Not to sound like your parents, but) don’t associate yourself with or actively participate in illicit activities in the first place. Every year, a cautionary tale emerges about a student whose acceptance to a top tier school was revoked after he/she made a poor decision at the end of senior year.


4.     Create a gmail address comprised of just your name (and numbers, if need be). This will ensure that any correspondence with admissions officers or interviewers will be kept separate from your personal emails, and will remind you to maintain a professional tone when you respond to items in that inbox. The last thing you want to do is put your misspelled, suggestive or silly net id on your college application to Harvard. It’s completely fine if you’re a fan of English punk rock, but if you hope to be taken seriously by adults who want nothing more than an excuse to eliminate you from the huge piles of similarly qualified applicants, John.Sundeim@gmail.com is far preferable to sexpistols4lifeeeeYO@aol.com.


5.     Cultivate an online persona that, if an admissions officer were to look you up on a social networking site, would make you appear intellectually curious and mature. Post articles, join charity organization facebook pages, post pictures from community service trips. This isn’t to say that you should lie about who you are, but save the Internet for only the best version of yourself, at least for now.


Check out the articles for more information:


USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/story/2011-09-21/facebook-google-college-applicants/50497248/1


Baltimore Sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/chi-edtoday-facebook-092211,0,3614898.story


              Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122170459104151023.html