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July 15, 2019

College Admissions and Social Media: The Internet Doesn’t Forget


You will soon be applying to college in earnest. There are a few things that can sink your ambitious college plans, or even a college acceptance letter already in your possession faster than an inappropriate post on from one of your social media accounts. Whether you frequent Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, “Big Brother” is watching and the “hammer will come down hard” if they find questionable character on your part.


  1. The Data
  2. Positive and Negative Social Media
  3. Questions to Ask Yourself
  4. Consequences
  5. The Take Home Message
  6. What do you think?

The Data

According to Inside Higher Education, 35% of the admission committees visit an applicant’s social media pages during the application process. The percentage is higher for private colleges. “Almost 50% of colleges found information found on sites such as Facebook and Instagram that had a positive impact, while 42% said what they found had a negative impact,” reports Kaplan.

Moreover, more than 66% of universities say that it is fair game to check an applicant’s social media posts. Therefore, applicant beware.

Positive Social Media

One admissions committee member described that she was pleasantly surprised at a LGBT panel discussion that she did at her school. Another student won a special award. Another college discovered a company that a student founded. Each of these cases was information not revealed in the application or easy and positively affected the student’s application.

Negative Social Media

  • Questionable language, counter to the rest of the application
  • Involved in a felony, and did not disclose this fact – offer rescinded
  • Pictures brandishing weapons
  • Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv, had his Harvard acceptance revoked after racist social media posts in wrote from 2017 surfaced.
  • Colleges have the right to revoke a student’s acceptance if their integrity and character comes into question

Real Known Consequences

  • A Teacher rescinded her letter of recommendation
  • Harvard revoked the acceptances of 10 admitted students after they participated in a private Facebook, group called “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens.” They reportedly joked about the Holocaust and abusing children, as well as insulted racial and ethnic groups
  • A private high school student posted on FB that she was enrolling at the Univ of Rochester. Her HS realized that they never sent materials there. She told the UR that she was homeschooled. Her offer of acceptance was rescinded as she arrived on campus to move into her dorm room.

Big Ideas/Take Home Message

  • Share things on social media that portray you favorably, like accomplishments
  • Reframe from racist, offensive and controversial comments
  • Google yourself and see what happens
  • Clean up your social media sites
  • Use social media to tell your story as part of your marketing campaign
  • Blog about issues you care deeply about. But, make sure that they are not controversial, disgusting or crude. Stick to current events, books you’ve recently read, favorite art work, vexing math problems, interesting scientific discoveries.