How Can Social Media Be A Good Witch For College Admissions? | Alan Katzman | 4 Min Read

The idea that colleges will look at students’ social media during the admissions decision-making process is not new. Kaplan Test Prep first began tracking this practice in 2008 when 10% of college admissions officers from the most selective colleges reported viewing applicant social media profiles during the admissions process. This first Kaplan survey was commissioned only four years after the founding of Facebook in 2004, which happens to be the same year as most of our current high school juniors were born.  

Back in 2008, the idea that colleges would even consider passing judgment on students’ by viewing their social media was a controversial and newsworthy topic. Social media was still very much a novelty and Facebook was generally dismissed as a teenage infatuation. Social media was (and arguably still is) a place where teens posted impulsively and spontaneously without fear of consequence. These attention-getting posts left an indelible and traceable trail of shallow, unimpressive, and immature content. Unsurprisingly, the social media footprint discovered by colleges in the early days did not bode well for students. Thus was born the enduring myth that discoverable social media could only damage a college-bound student’s admissions chances.

Fast forward to 2021, where social media plays an integral role in teen culture and where Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tik Tok, YouTube, and LinkedIn have joined Facebook on the main stage of the digital superhighway. Recent surveys indicate that over 90% of teens ages 13-17 are actively using social media and, on average, teens are online almost nine hours a day, not including time for homework. The pandemic only seems to be accelerating this trend as 63% of parents report seeing their teen’s social media use increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Social media is also no longer strictly child’s play as over 70% of American adults are active on at least one social media platform.

Kaplan’s most recent social media survey found 36% of college admissions officers actually do visit applicants’ social media profiles and, more importantly, 65% believe that incorporating applicants’ social media pages into their acceptance decisions is “fair game.” Also referring to the admissions officers who said they check social media, 42% said what they found impacted their view of students positively while 58% said their investigations had a negative impact. 

After Harvard University rescinded its acceptance to at least 10 students due to questionable…

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Alan Katzman

Alan Katzman, CEO and Founder of Social Assurity, is a leading advocate for teaching effective social media use at all educational levels. Social Assurity offers a combination of online education courses and presentations to students (both high school and college) providing them with the necessary tools to better position themselves on social media for both college admissions and hiring managers. As a well-respected industry expert, Katzman has published several industry-related articles on this topic with articles appearing in publications such as Business Insider and Social Media Today. When not refining the courses offered by Social Assurity, Alan can often be found as a motivational speaker at high schools, colleges and student organizations where he raises awareness of the importance of social media as a positive tool for creating educational and professional opportunities. He is also Founder and President of the Coalition of Digital Educators, a 501(c) organization where members have a unique opportunity to be an active voice for defining the future of digital education, ethics, and citizenship. Prior to forming Social Assurity, Alan served as executive legal counsel for several start-up and Fortune 500 technology companies where he managed the law, compliance and administrative functions for these firms.