College Chaos: The Impact of Social Media on College Admissions


Georgia Hoey, Student Journalist

From a young age, the adults in our lives engrave the consequences of social media into our minds, until we ignore their warnings and find out the hard way. 

Some kids don’t heed their parents’ advice about social media and the repercussions on one’s future, because kids have a hard time believing that colleges can actually check social media. 

Social media has been in the lives of students ever since they were young. Especially for high school students whose lives revolve around the electronic world of social media. 

The platforms of social media are endless, ranging from Instagram to Snapchat and even the hottest new app, Tik Tok. But kids of all ages think that they are protected behind their private account, in which only the people they let follow them can see. 

It can be true to some extent, that your posts are locked up and private. Yet, there is still a looming danger that most people are unaware of, along with the wonderment of, do colleges actually check potential students’ social media? 

The answer is, yes. According to the U.S News and World Reports, “A 2018 Kaplan Test Prep survey found that about 25% of college admissions officers review applicants’ social media profiles.” This raises another question: are the college admissions officers always looking for something negative?

Twenty five percent of students interviewed at Fairfield Ludlowe High School think the answer is yes, colleges will never check social media in a positive way. Which in some ways,  is correct. Sometimes there can be a “anonymous tip” causing admissions to check your social media to make sure their suspicions might be false. Even if you have a private account, it can still be checked in many different ways. 

According to “Inside Higher Ed,” the most popular sites for admissions to check is, “social media profiles on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.” If your accounts are private, they can still examine your accounts in many ways.

According to Veritas Prep, “The first thing many colleges notice about the social media accounts of applicants is the profile picture. Profile pictures allow schools to put a face to the name on a student’s application.” 

The scariest part is that, “admissions officers may look at social media if troubling information about a candidate is sent by a third party, often someone who remains anonymous,” according to U.S News and World Report. They also claim that, “According to a 2017 survey administered by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 11% of respondents said they ‘denied admission based on social media content’ and another 7% rescinded offers for the same reason.”

Representatives who can vouch for being part of this 7%, are ten prospective members of the Class of 2021, who were planning to attend Harvard College. According to The Harvard Crimson, “A handful of admitted students formed the messaging group—titled, at one point, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”—on Facebook in late December, according to two incoming freshmen.”

The ten students had their admissions offers revoked after the finding of the Facebook group. It proves very quickly that it can happen to anyone, even to students attending one of the most prestigious schools in the country. 

However, are college admission always checking social media in a negative way? Most people are quick to assume it is always negative, or that colleges just don’t have the time to check social media at all. Nevertheless, the answer is, no. 

Colleges are not out to get students by bashing on their social media and coming up with reasons to not admit students into their schools. Colleges use social media as another booster for why they should let you into their school. 

Students don’t realize the endless platforms they have that can represent them as a person. According to Veritas Prep, “Your social media accounts can be a great chance to highlight the various extracurricular activities you are involved in. It is one thing for a student to list that they are involved in an activity on their resume, but it is quite another for a student to show how involved they are in that activity through their social posts.” 

Social media can be used to highlight your strengths as a person while showing off your personality. Colleges want to find students that can show enthusiasm, excitement and even some creativity about their lives, and maybe even about the college they have the desire to attend. 

Veritas Prep also claims, “Colleges want to admit students who are excited about attending their particular school. As such, it is a good idea to follow the social media accounts of the schools you are applying to and engage in what they post. This can be done by liking the school’s status posts or sharing them with your own followers. If the colleges you apply to do decide to look at your social media accounts, they will appreciate seeing how interested you are in their activities.”

With all of this in mind, if your social media is representative of how you are as a person and gives colleges a glance into something interesting and inspiring that you are passionate about, then you shouldn’t be scared to show it off. In the end, admissions offices are looking for another reason to admit you into their school, meaning your social media has to opportunity to give you an extra push into the school of your dreams. 

Just like Alan Katzman, the CEO and founder of Social Assurity, from U.S News and World Report says, “The beauty of social media is that you’re not limited to 500 words.”