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    The StratEDgy blog is intended to be a thoughtful hub for discussion about strategy and competition in higher education.

Students and Social Media
October 28, 2012 - 8:21pm

Last week’s StratEDgy post focused on Social Media and Teaching.  Faculty reported that one barrier preventing them from using social media was a concern about privacy.  As a counterpoint to that perspective, here our attention is on student use of social media.  Most students have the opposite problem – a sort of apathy toward privacy issues.

Getting into College
University marketing departments are well aware that high school students use social media to research schools.  But how aware are these students that admissions departments peruse the social media accounts of their applicants? 

InsideHigherEd cited Kaplan Test Prep’s survey of college admissions officers, highlighting that “the percentage of admissions officers who said they discovered something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting into the school nearly tripled – from 12% last year to 35% this year.”

Getting a Job
Student use of social media is also increasingly influencing the recruitment process.  Forbes investigated this topic in a recent article, citing that in the, “2012 annual technology market survey from Eurocom Worldwide, “One in five tech executives say that a candidate’s social media profile has caused them not to hire that person.””  Forbes also cites a CareerBuilder survey showing that, “37% of firms across industries browse social media profiles to evaluate each candidate’s character and personality.””

It seems this trend is not truly appreciated by all college students. Over the summer I gave a talk to undergraduates about professional communication. For most of them, it was news that employers screen an applicant’s social media accounts during the recruitment process and that they pay third party companies to help.

Students are often surprised to learn that tweets are public and catalogued in the Library of Congress.  See this excerpt from Twitter’s Privacy Policy:


“Our Services are primarily designed to help you share information with the world. Most of the information you provide us is information you are asking us to make public. This includes not only the messages you Tweet and the metadata provided with Tweets, such as when you Tweeted, but also the lists you create, the people you follow, the Tweets you mark as favorites or Retweet, and many other bits of information that result from your use of the Services. Our default is almost always to make the information you provide public for as long as you do not delete it from Twitter, but we generally give you settings to make the information more private if you want. Your public information is broadly and instantly disseminated. For instance, your public user profile information and public Tweets may be searchable by search engines and are immediately delivered via SMS and our APIs to a wide range of users and services, with one example being the United States Library of Congress, which archives Tweets for historical purposes.”


With new online tools like the One Million Tweet Map, which allows us to search for and zoom in on any tweet in the world and its exact location, any illusion of privacy is rapidly evaporating.

However, students can try to use all of this increased transparency in a positive way when it comes to college admissions or landing a job.  Social media accounts can be used as an extension of a resume. Sharing accomplishments, awards, samples of work or writing, or becoming active in an online community can showcase expertise in a professional way. 


What social media tips would you offer students?




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