Could your profile keep you from getting into college?

Maggie Toole


(October 19, 2015)

As seniors prepare to apply to college, many decide to change their Facebook name as an effort to lessen the chance of a college admissions officer finding negative information online. This fall, many Nantucket High School seniors have changed their Facebook information to a play on words or variation of their name.

Senior Lizzie Thayer, who recently changed her name to Lizardof Oz, believes that she is taking a necessary precaution.

“I changed my name on Facebook because since I’m applying to schools I felt it was better to be safe than sorry and even though I have nothing to hide on my Facebook, if schools were ever looking I would rather them not have the ability to look through mine,” she said.

This process has become a pseudo tradition for the graduating classes across the country as an alternative to sanitizing their pages or deactivating their accounts. Many students start brainstorming their pseudonym when the school year begins, in the hope of creating something funny and original. “It took me a while to figure out my name and I was at breakfast one day actually brainstorming names with some other seniors and someone just came up with it and I thought it was hilarious and basically couldn’t pass it up,” said Thayer. Other NHS originals include Brooke Hold TheGate, Toe-knee Hand and Charlie Brown.

This process is most frequently found on Facebook, as it is often the most public form of social media that students use. “I think Facebook is just the easiest for colleges or anyone to search. Like snapchat and instagram, for example, can be private so they wouldn’t be able to see much,” said senior Lauren Wilson.

It is often recommended that students untag themselves from any suspicious photos or posts and increase privacy settings. However, social media can be used as a way to positively supplement your application by showing your interests and involvements. In fact, some schools use social media as a way to find potential students.

According to a Kaplan conducted survey, 26 percent of admissions officers search for applicants on Facebook and Google while reviewing their applications. The same study stated that 35 percent of application readers found something online that negatively impacted a student’s chance of gaining admission. Overall, admissions officers reported that 12 percent of applicants are rejected due to something seen on social media.

Whether or not a college will vet your social media depends completely on the school itself. Often large universities do not have the capacity to look at all their applicant’s accounts, whereas smaller schools often search applicants’ social media randomly. Some schools, such as Oberlin College, don’t allow their admissions officers to search applicants because the university views it as an invasion of privacy.

Former NHS guidance counselor and private college consultant Susan McFarland believes that social media can be a crucial part of the application process.

“Students need to be aware that many colleges, like employers, now check social media sites of prospective students,” she said. “How you present yourself online may very well impact your admission decisions.”

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