College admissions now using social media like never before

A new survey reveals that college admissions officers' use of resources like Facebook and Google to gather more information on applicants has reached an all-time high.

According to the results of a new Kaplan Test Prep survey, a higher percentage of United States college admissions officers visit the social media pages of applicants in order to learn more about them.

For the 2015 survey, 387 admissions officers from the nation’s top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities were polled by telephone between July and August 2015. It was found that 40 percent of admissions officers visit applicants’ social media profiles to research them more in depth, which represents a record high that is also quadruple the percentage of affirmative respondents from when Kaplan first explored the trend in 2008.

Amongst those 40 percent who check social media profiles, most say they “rarely” check social media, with some reporting doing so “often.”

As for the percentage of admissions officers who say they have Googled an applicant to learn more about them, that figure has remained relatively stable over the last two years at 29 percent.

“The growth of social media hasn’t made college admissions a whole new ballgame, but it’s definitely impacted the rules,” said Yariv Alpher, the executive director and head of market research at Kaplan Test Prep. “What you post online can and may be used in your favor or against you, so it’s important to think about what you share. When in doubt, the best strategy may be to keep it to yourself.”

(Next page: What factors cause admissions officers to check social media?)