Should Social Media Decide?

Have you ever posted something that you immediately regretted? Have you ever been tagged in a post you wished you hadn’t? Have you ever wondered whether your social media accounts are currently being judged by potential colleges? These are problems that many students in the college admissions process face.

Colleges should not base their decision to accept or deny an application on one’s social media identity. It is misleading and unfair for a student’s chances to rely upon what colleges may dig up from social media, whether it is valid information or not.

Some may argue that it is reasonable for colleges to use social media to judge how a student presents themselves to the public. Social media accounts are public and everything one posts is available for viewing. Students have to be cautious and aware of how they portray themselves.

However, this is irrelevant to how the teenager is as a student, and it can sometimes lead to a false portrayal. In 2012, 35% of admissions officers said that upon checking a student’s online identity, they found information that negatively affected their chances of getting in. Considering that the prior year was only 12% of students, what has really changed about these teenagers? It is unlikely that students became 23% worse, so what is causing this drastic increase?

In a world where technology has dominated, it can be difficult for a teenager to recognize what they are posting, tagged in, or how their accounts may look to others. Many people have experienced their accounts being hacked. If an admissions officer was to see disrespectful comments or inappropriate posts, teenagers may be judged based on the posts or comments they are tagged in by peers. It is unfair to the teenager to be assessed based on the actions of others. Most people don’t post all of their extracurriculars and achievements. This could lead to a disadvantage against a student that falsely claimed they were a part of many groups and activities. Social media can portray a vague and inaccurate characterization, which is why it should not be the basis for judging a student’s integrity.

Twenty to thirty years ago this scenario would never have come into question. Around that time, students were judged solely on their grades and how they presented themselves. If they made a childish mistake in high school, it wouldn’t be engraved in their social media identity and affect their entire future. Now, everything teenagers may or may not have done is taken into account and sometimes held against them in every aspect of life.

A study by Kaplan found that 31% of college admissions officers check students social media to see if they would “make a good fit at their educational institution”. Twelve percent of students were then rejected based on what the officers had found. These students could have had so much potential, but colleges refused to accept them based on what they presumed from their social media accounts. A logical solution would be for colleges to alert the targeted student on what they found from their accounts. The colleges should give students the ability to defend themselves or to convince them that it was a misguided representation of who they really are. A student could get wrongfully rejected and lose their potential of learning and thriving at that school.

There is no benefit to colleges invading personal and social lives of teenagers today. Technology is a recent advancement and there was no need to check students online identities years prior. There are other ways to decide whether a student belongs in any certain school without the use of social media.

By Sarah Larson and Annabel Summo

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