Checking Social Media

A growing number of admissions officers believe it is "fair game" to scope out students' feeds, survey finds.

February 8, 2021
(Getty Images)

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the admissions officers surveyed by Kaplan in 2020 see no issue with social media being part of the admissions equation. In Kaplan’s 2019 survey, 59 percent of admissions officers reported a “fair game” view, while the 2018 survey found that figure to be 57 percent. On the other side, 35 percent of admissions officers consider viewing applicants’ social media “an invasion of privacy and shouldn’t be done.”

The survey found that 36 percent of admissions officers polled visit applicants’ social media profiles like Facebook, TikTok and Instagram to learn more about them⁠ -- holding steady from Kaplan’s 2019 survey, but up significantly from 25 percent in Kaplan’s 2018 survey.

Of admissions officers who have checked out an applicant’s social media footprint, about 17 percent say they do it “often,” about the same as in 2019’s survey, but significantly higher than the 11 percent in Kaplan’s 2015 survey.

And of the admissions officers who say they check social media, 42 percent say that what they found has had a positive impact on prospective students, up from 38 percent in 2019. On the flip side, 58 percent say that what they found had a negative impact, up significantly from 32 percent in 2019.

The results are based on a survey of 300-plus admissions officers.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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