I’ve blogged before about how information from social networking sites is being used against individuals. Such data has been used in criminal trials and against job applicants. Now, education services firm Kaplan reveals “a Kaplan survey of 320 admissions officers from the nation’s top colleges and universities revealed that one out of ten admissions officers has visited an applicant’s social networking Web site as part of the admissions decision-making process.” Kaplan also surveyed admissions officers at business, law and medical schools and found similar results.
Admissions officers at 9 percent of business schools, 15 percent of law schools and 14 percent of medical schools surveyed report having visited applicants’ social networking sites during the admissions decision-making process.
As you might expect, such site visits can lead to bad results for the school applicant.
The good news: a quarter of those who report viewing applicants’ sites say that these viewings have generally had a positive impact on their evaluation. The bad news: a greater percentage (38 percent) report that applicants’ social networking sites have generally had a negative impact on their admissions evaluation.
Some people might be offended that colleges or companies would do such searches, but why is anyone surprised? There are many applicants and few slots, so sometimes an interviewer will search for more information.
A University of Notre Dame official summed up the issue well. If the school finds something inappropriate on an applicant’s social networking page:
“We try to turn it into a teaching moment,” [assistant provost for enrollment Dan Saracino] said. “It’s an opportunity to let students know that what they put on these sites is not just between you and your friends, but you and the world.”