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Admissions officers rely less on social media in applications

Checking potential students' social media accounts has waned in recent years; here's why

According to a survey from Kaplan Test Prep published at the end of last year, college admissions officers aren’t visiting applicants’ social media profiles as much as they used to. The reason may surprise you.

In 2015, 40 percent of surveyed college admissions officers said they went to potential students’ social media profiles to learn more about them. But now, only 25 percent say they seek out applicants’ social media. A possible reason? Admissions officers can’t find the accounts.

Of the admissions officers who say they have looked into social media in applications, 52 percent say students have become savvier about hiding their social media presence over the past few years, or students have moved away from social communities where what they post is easy to find by people they don’t know.

Changing attitudes about social media

According to a 2018 report by research firm Piper Jaffray, about 85 percent of teens say they use both Instagram and Snapchat–two platforms that make it easy to share posts with specific people, along with making it easier to keep user profiles and posts hard to find, if desired. This compares to just 36 percent of teens who use Facebook once per month, a decrease from 60 percent three years ago.

Another factor may be a shift in attitudes about checking social media. While 57 percent say it’s “fair game” for them to visit applicants’ social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to help them decide who gets in, it represents a significant drop from the 68 percent who held this view in Kaplan’s 2017 survey.

Notably, students have been generally more accepting of this practice than admissions officers–in a separate Kaplan survey completed earlier this year, 70 percent said they believe it’s “fair game” for admissions officers to check social media.

Laura Ascione