So maybe we overstated all of those warnings to teenagers that their college admission chances will be hurt by drunk photos or stupid texts. It turns out most colleges don’t check an applicant’s social media profile, according to a recent report on a forthcoming Kaplan survey. For teenagers, this means that all of Stanford admissions isn’t talking about that embarrassing photo one of your idiot friends tagged you in. Nor is Yale backing up your SAT scores by checking the grammar you use on Twitter.
The impractical logistics of sweeping background checks always caused me to question whether social media checks happened or were more of an urban legend. I get it when an employer is looking at a handful of candidates to fill an open job, but colleges receive thousands of applications – the article notes that UC Berkeley received 83,690 freshmen and transfer applications last year and admitted 18,074 – and the amount of resources it would take to review the Facebook pages of all, half, or some of those applicants is staggering. I’d heard stories about college tour guides on Facebook friending prospective students they’ve shown around campus in order to gain access to personal information that could sway an admissions decision. Maybe that’s true, but it’s probably not or at least not widespread.
Thinking twice before posting is always a good policy. This doesn’t mean those photos or ill advised posts won’t ever hurt, it just means that they aren’t likely to hurt during college admissions, for now.