Colleges Know Who You Are and May See What You Do

What does your digital footprint look like? You may want to check it out. The use of social networking sites and Internet search engines in the admission process is on the rise. Increasing numbers of admission professionals are turning to Facebook, Twitter, Google and other online resources to learn more about prospective students.

Kaplan Test Prep's 2011 survey of college admission officers found that 24% of the colleges surveyed reported they have gone to an applicant's Facebook or other social networking page to learn more about them. That figure is up from 10% in 2008. Furthermore, 20% of schools have Googled applicants.  Kaplan also found that 12% percent of the admission officers who used social media or online tools found material that hurt the student's chance of admission -- usually postings of uncouth activities, plagiarism, alcohol use or other "illegal activities."

While most admission offices do not routinely follow a student's digital trail, students need to think about their use of social media and web presence -- including what others are saying about them online. Be aware that colleges may turn here to learn more about you. The internet has a long memory. Google yourself and see what comes up. A good rule of thumb going forward? Don't post anything you don't want a college admission officer -- or your grandmother -- to see.

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