In college admissions, social media can be a double-edged sword

When I wrote my Technophoria column this weekend about how some college admissions officers have occasionally identified social media posts that negatively affected applicants’ chances of acceptance, I assumed the phenomenon would not come as news to the parents of high school students, The New York Times reports.

After all, I came up with the idea for the piece after learning from a friend that her child, a high school senior who is applying for early admission to college this week, had recently taken a pseudonym on Facebook — a common phenomenon at certain schools.

In fact, the column pointed out that colleges don’t vet applicants’ personal social networking pages as a routine practice; the admissions officials I interviewed said they typically scrutinized social media only if outside sources alerted them to extreme posts like hate speech.

But, on Facebook and Twitter, scores of principals, guidance counselors, teachers and parents took the piece as an opportunity to caution teenagers who bare and publicly share their heartstrings.

Certainly, the idea of admissions officers randomly vetting the online remarks of a few high school students raises legitimate concerns: colleges could arbitrarily discover seemingly troubled comments by a handful of applicants and deny them admission — without telling them why.

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