Report: Facebook is new unspoken college admissions test

Posted on: 8:57 am, November 15, 2012, by , updated on: 08:58am, November 15, 2012

Think you can hide photos like these from college admissions staff members with privacy settings? Maybe. Maybe not. (Photo: Facebook)

Think you can hide photos like these from college admissions staff members with privacy settings? Maybe. Maybe not. (Photo: Facebook)

Think using your middle name as your last name or going with another alias with no trace of your real name will protect your Facebook privacy?

It might not. Especially if you’re trying to hide your profile from college admissions offices.

According to a new report from “TIME” magazine, college admissions counselors may be finding creative new ways to get around security settings — both Facebook- and user-created — to get private information that could make or break your chances at getting into their school.

While many admissions directors are reluctant to provide specifics about how they scour social media accounts, according to “TIME,” more than 25 percent of school officials did explicitly say they had looked up applicants on Facebook or Google.

But there may be a lot more going on behind closed admissions office doors.

You know that email address you have to include on my college applications these days? If it’s the same one you use to log into Facebook, college administrators can and often will find a way to use it to look you up on Facebook, according to a college freshman who works in the admissions office at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

And “TIME” presented plenty of social media horror stories to back that theory up.

A college counselor at BASIS Preps in Scottsdale, Ariz. talked about a student whose acceptance to an “elite college” was revoked when he was caught badmouthing the school on Facebook.

At Williams College, a student’s admission was rescinded because he posted disparaging remarks on a college discussion board.

At the University of Georgia, when an admissions officer discovered an applicant’s racially-charged Twitter account, he took a screenshot and added the tweets to the student’s application file.

Nancy McDuff, associate vice president for admissions and enrollment management at the University of Georgia, told “TIME” it’s easy for universities to justify the scouring of applicants’ social media pages.

“If a student mentions something in their application that isn’t well explained, and you’re looking for more information, you may check their Facebook,” she says. “They’re writing about themselves. That’s no different from what a guidance counselor may write about them when they ask for someone to write a letter of recommendation.”