Colleges are checking out applicants’ social networking posts

A new report indicates that colleges’ admission or scholarship decisions are being influenced by what they find about applicants online, reports the Los Angeles Times. According to a report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, about a quarter of U.S. colleges reported doing some research about applicants on social networking sites or through internet search engines. The study did not specify which schools acknowledged the practice or how often scholarships or enrollment offers might be nixed because of online postings. But David Hawkins, director of public policy and research for the counselors group, said the moral is clear: "Don’t post anything that you don’t want your mother or father or college admission officer to see," he said. Colleges’ use of such internet sites raises ethical issues that need further study, including regarding whether online postings are genuine, Hawkins added. The report, which also looked at colleges’ use of the internet to recruit students, was written by Nora Ganim Barnes, director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She said some colleges turn to the social web sites because "no school wants to give a prestigious scholarship to someone standing on a beer keg and wearing a lampshade…"

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