Campus Life

Are You A Two-Faced Facebooker?

I've posted before about admissions officers exploring applicants' Facebook pages. Sometimes that's good news and other times it's not so good news. My personal opinion is that admissions officers don't have enough time in their days to check out a ton of applicants on Facebook. The numbers are just too overwhelming. However, I do have a theory about which applicants might bear Facebook scrutiny. Maybe you're one of them.

You may want to take a close look at your college applications: your major essay(s), your short responses, and any  "Additional Information" comments you've made. How do you think your readers in admissions would see you? Do you come off as confident, original, unorthodox, or an arrogant smarty pants? My theory is that if you clearly stand out from the mountain of other applicants in a certain way, your admissions readers may take a quick detour to your Facebook page to try to confirm any first-blush reactions they have about you.


So, then, what will they see when they get there? What's on your wall? What kind of impression do those posts and pictures convey about you? Have you made any astounding philosophical revelations? Espoused any strongly political leanings? Maybe you love the Occupy Wall Streeters. Maybe you're a big Herman Cain fan. Maybe you couldn't care less about what's going on in the world. What kinds of people and friends hang out with you on Facebook?

My theory also includes a caution: Beware promoting one type of personality in your college applications and a completely different one on Facebook. Don't be a two-faced Facebooker. If you try to come off as being an intellectual in your college applications and then have Homer Simpson-like statements and images on your Facebook page . . . well, I don't have to explain the consequences of that. Likewise, if you claim to belong to Mothers Against Drunk Driving and there are pictures of you chugging a yard of beer, well, again . . .

Here's a quote from a recent article about admissions officers and Facebook: "The number of college admissions officials using Facebook to learn more about applicants has quadrupled in the past year ..." That should give you pause for thought. Let's see what other information emerges from this look into admissions thinking.

College admissions using Facebook as a tool for perspective

by Sarah Laughlin

In today’s society, technology is on the rise. The majority of students will come home from class, log onto the Internet and automatically go to Facebook.

Administrators seem to have caught on and are checking prospective students’ Facebook pages for hindrances that would prevent them from being a good applicant for that college.

Facebook is a social media website that is used by over 800 million people. When logged into the site, users are able to search others’ profiles by looking at pictures, posts, comments and personal information.

The number of college admissions officials using Facebook to learn more about applicants has quadrupled in the past year – though not everyone at Drake University is in agreement of using this method.

“Drake takes a holistic approach,” said Laura Linn, Drake’s director of admission. “We look at students as real people, not objects of Facebook.”

She said that people might portray themselves on Facebook one way but end up being nothing like they seem, and it is unfair to judge them based on Facebook.

Linn also noted that it is more important for administrators to look at the activities prospective students have been involved in, along with course loads, classes and counselor recommendations.

According to USA Today, over 24 percent of admissions officials at 359 selective colleges across the country used Facebook to review applicants. Nearly 12 percent of those students viewed had a “negative impact” on their admission.

In 2009, only six percent of admissions officials used Facebook.

Sophomore Brittany Michael did not care whether admissions officials viewed her Facebook page.

The Internet is a space where information is public, and Michael said when going into college she had no problem with school officials checking her page.

“I have nothing to hide,” she said.

Lilianna Bernstein, senior admission counselor at Drake, reviews between 500 and 600 applicants each year. In past years, there have been over 6,000 applicants, and out of those only 3,800 were admitted, Bernstein said.

“I don’t have time to look at 600 profiles and still be able to do my job,” Bernstein said. “It’s unethical to look at some students profiles and not others.”

Bernstein said that she is sure this debate will go on for a while, and that Drake is obviously an exception from other schools.

“If you wouldn’t want your mom and grandma seeing pictures of you doing beer bongs, then don’t put that on the Internet for others to see,” Bernstein said. “While Drake doesn’t check, other schools do. Keep that in mind.”

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So, beer bongs be gone! The point: Ask yourself this question:

"What kind of person would complete strangers think me to be if the only information they had about me was my Facebook page?"

Now, ask yourself this:

"How does the person on my Facebook page compare with the person portrayed in my college application?"

Bottom line: Are you a two-faced Facebooker?

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.