Survey: Social Media is Now ‘Fair Game’ in College Admissions

Survey: Social Media is Now ‘Fair Game’ in College Admissions

Most college admissions officers see applicants’ social media content as “fair game” in admissions criteria, a new survey finds.

Kaplan surveyed hundreds of admissions officers and found that 66% see no issue with social media being part of the admissions equation. That view has grown more popular over the years. Back in 2018, only 57% of college admissions officers saw social media content as fair game in the admissions criteria.

“Kaplan has been tracking the role of social media in the college admissions process since 2008 and it’s clear that a strong majority of admissions officers have arrived at being philosophically comfortable with the idea of visiting applicants’ social media profiles,” Isaac Botier, executive director of college admissions programs at Kaplan, says. “Most will continue to say that while social media profiles shouldn’t be off limits, they are much more focused on evaluating prospective students on the traditional admissions factors like GPA, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, admissions essays, and extracurriculars.”


While most admissions officers see social media as fair game in admissions, few actually visit applicants’ profiles. Typically, admissions officers will only view an applicant’s social media if it is included in application materials.

“We have to weigh that with the fact that the admission officers who are reading thousands and thousands of applications are not going to go check everybody on social media, and probably not everybody who even sends a link,” Marilyn Hesser, executive director of admission at the University of Richmond in Virginia, tells US News.

According to Kaplan, only 27% of admissions officers surveyed in 2021 visit applicants’ social media profiles to learn more about them⁠—a significant drop from 36% in 2020. Of the admissions officers who actually check applicants’ social media, only 6% say they do it “often.” 38% of those admissions officers say that what they found on applicants’ social media had a positive impact on prospective students. 57% say that what they found had a negative impact

“What also struck us was that a far lower percentage of admissions officers are actually visiting applicants’ social media profiles, compared to the past few years,” Botier says. “We believe that given COVID-related issues, admissions officers decided to take a step back and give applicants the benefit of the doubt.”

Sources: Kaplan, US News

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