Kaplan Test Prep Survey: College Admissions Officers Say Social Media Increasingly Affects Applicants’ Chances

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kaplan Test Prep’s latest survey of more than 350 college admissions
officers from across the United States finds that while the percentage
of admissions officers who check applicants’ social media profiles has
dipped (35% versus 40% last year), a greater percentage of those who do
check say social media has influenced their views on applicants. Of the
35% of admissions officers who say they check social media sites like
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about applicants, 47% say
that what they found has had a positive impact on prospective students –
up from 37% last year. On the flip side, 42% say that what they found
had a negative impact, up from 37% last year. Kaplan’s survey also found
that of the admissions officers who use social media to help them make
decisions, 25% do so “often” – more than double the 11% who said they
did it “often” in last year’s survey.

What exactly are the kinds of things admissions officers say they have
found that positively impacted applicants’ admissions chances? It ranged
from community building to winning awards:

  • One admissions officer said, “One student described on Twitter that
    she facilitated an LGBTQ panel for her school, which wasn’t in her
    application. This made us more interested in her overall and
    encouraged us to imagine how she would help out the community.”
  • Another admissions officer shared, “There’s such a negative stereotype
    of social media that people often forget about the positive effects of
    it. One student had won an award and had a picture with their
    principal on their personal page, and it was nice to see.”
  • “One young lady started a company with her mom, so it was cool to
    visit their website,” added another admissions officer.

Some of the things college admissions officers found that negatively
impacted applicants’ admissions chances ranged from bigotry to illegal

  • “We found a student’s Twitter account with some really questionable
    language. It wasn’t quite racist, but it showed a cluelessness that
    you’d expect of a privileged student who hadn’t seen much of the
    world. It really ran counter to the rest of her application,” said one
    admissions officer.
  • “A young man who had been involved in a felony did not disclose his
    past, which is part of our admissions process. His social media page
    shared his whole story. If he had been forthcoming, we would not have
    rescinded his acceptance offer, but we had to.”
  • One admissions officer said that pictures of a student “brandishing
    weapons” gave him pause when deciding whether to admit the applicant.

“To be clear, the large majority of admissions officers do not visit
applicants’ social media sites. However, a meaningful number do, as many
note that social media can provide a more authentic and holistic view of
applicants beyond the polished applications. And in fact, past Kaplan
surveys have shown that a majority of students themselves consider their
social networking sites to be ‘fair game’ for admissions officers,” said
Yariv Alpher, executive director of research, Kaplan Test Prep. “That
said, college applicants need to be aware of what others can find about
them on social networks and make sure it reflects well on them. For
better or worse, social media has become an established factor in
college admissions, and it’s more important than ever for applicants to
make wise decisions. If you’re not sure what to post, ask a parent or
high school counselor. If you’re still not sure, then the best course of
action might be to not post it at all.”

For a short video illustrating the survey’s findings, click here.
And to read a blog post on Kaplan’s college admissions blog College:
Admission Possible, visit here.

For more information about Kaplan Test Prep’s survey, please contact
Russell Schaffer at 212.453.7538 or russell.schaffer@kaplan.com.

*For the survey, 365 admissions officers from the nation’s top national,
regional and liberal arts colleges and universities – as compiled from U.S.
News & World Report
– were polled by telephone between July and
August 2016.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com)
is a premier provider of educational and career services for
individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the
world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of
online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital
products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized
tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and
graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys,
physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and
graduate admissions consulting services.

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company


Russell Schaffer, 212-453-7538
, @KaplanSATACT