The Social U: Social Media & College Admissions Survey

Social Media and College Admissions

In August, 2016, The Social U finished conducting an online survey of college admissions officers regarding how (and if) they use social media during the admissions process.

Here are our results:

79% of admissions officers surveyed report that quality of character is important in applicants.  This means that an applicant's personal brand is important.  Students need to take the time to cultivate their brands and make sure that they post thoughtfully.  If they aren't sure which posts might cause someone to question their quality of character, they can run their Social GPA with The Social U for free and then for the price of a latte or two, see every post in their history that has the potential to cause them trouble with admissions officers or employers.

How many really look?  It's hard to say exactly but 50% of our respondents reported that either they or someone in their office search applicants online.  This certainly doesn't mean that they look at social media for every application that comes across their desk.  It means that at one time or another they have looked at someone's online profiles during the admissions process.  The thing students need to understand is that they will never know if they are one of the applicants who is having their profiles looked at or not.

We asked our respondents for the top reasons admissions officers search for applicants online.  Here are their responses:

  • 63% search when they are alerted by an outside source to look at an applicant's online profiles
  • 41% search when an applicant has a troublesome disciplinary record
  • 25% search when an applicant is applying for a scholarship, an honors program or another competitive or highly selective program, college or major
  • 24% search when an applicant lists questionable accomplishments
  • 19% search when they find issues with an applicant's records or reports
  • 16% search when they are looking for more information on an applicant in order to advocate for their admission
  • 15% search when an applicant's counselor recommends they look online
  • 13% search when an applicant is a would-be athlete (however many coaches check potential athlete's social media profiles during recruitment)

About 57% of admissions officers stated that either they or someone in their office discovered something about an applicant online that caused them concern about admitting an applicant.  The top causes they reported caused them concern are:

  • 73% said violent symbols or expression
  • 69% said any form of prejudice
  • 54% said evidence of partying, drugs or alcohol
  • 40% said negative comments about school
  • 33% said nudity or partial nudity
  • 24% said profanity

See the infographic here.

So while students may never know if their social media profiles are being looked at by college admissions officers, they should know that it would be wise to take the time to make sure that their online personas reflect the quality of character they want others to see in them.  To make sure your profiles stand out for the right reasons, visit The Social U and run your free Social GPA today.

Originally published: