College seniors know that prospective employers check their Facebook and MySpace pages; now high-school seniors have evidence that college admissions officers browse them as well.
One in 10 admissions officers has looked at an applicant’s social-networking profile, according to a report released yesterday by the test-prep company Kaplan Inc. Of those who peeked, 38 percent said what they saw had a negative effect on their evaluation of the student. Fewer — a quarter — said the effect was positive.
Admissions officers’ decisions to look or not are mostly up to them, Kaplan said. “The vast majority of schools we surveyed said they have no official policies or guidelines in place regarding visiting applicants’ social-networking Web sites — nor are they considering plans to develop them,” Jeff Olson, executive director of research for Kaplan’s test-prep and admissions division, said in a written statement.
The company surveyed 320 institutions among U.S. News & World Report’s and Barron’s top 500. It also polled admissions officers at professional schools, finding that 9 percent in business, 14 percent in medicine, and 15 percent in law looked at applicants’ social-networking sites when making admissions decisions.
Some students are crying foul. In a poll on Kaplan’s Web site — “Do you think it’s fair for colleges and universities to look at social-networking sites when evaluating applicants?” — 46 percent of respondents said no. —Sara Lipka