Facebook and College Essays

There was an article yesterday in the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” in which our Founder, Bev Taylor, is quoted that focuses on admissions officers disclosing on social media what is written in college essays. One admissions officer in particular, a former Penn admissions officer by the name of Nadirah Farah Foley blatantly violated the trust of the Penn admissions office by posting excerpts of applicants’ college essays on her Facebook page. Can you imagine? When applicants write essays, the good ones reveal personal anecdotes about who they are and what they’re all about. But what if applicants couldn’t trust that sentences from their essays wouldn’t end up on Twitter or Facebook.

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College admissions officers should absolutely not be sharing excerpts of college essays with the public. And they should not be offering public commentary on them.

According to “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” “In one essay, a student had written about his ‘long and deep’ connections to the University, citing the fact that he had been circumcised at Penn Hillel years ago. ‘I look forward to engaging in the academic, social and Orthodox Jewish communities on campus,’ the student wrote, according to Foley’s post. ‘Stop the madness,’ Foley said in response to the essay on Facebook.” Oy vey. And an appropriate oy vey! First, a student really wrote that in his essay? While it is quite funny, it’s not appropriate for a college essay unfortunately. But then this admissions officer posted these lines online? Double oy vey.

Deans of admission at highly selective colleges can make their staff members sign agreements of confidentiality all they want. The fact is that many college admissions officers are hired right out of college. Many work in admissions for years — don’t get us wrong — but there is still a sizable portion of the field that hails directly from college without passing go. It’s their first job. They’re going to make mistakes like this, especially in the age of social media. What do you think can be done to stop this from happening going forward? Let us know your thoughts on the matter by posting below!

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