Oh nuts. We hate picking on “CNN.” We love Anderson Cooper! And “CNN” has been taking too many unwarranted hits these days with all the erroneous “fake news” claims. But there is a misleading headline we feel the need to correct for our readers. A piece by Kelly Wallace is entitled “Surprise! Social media can help, not hurt, your college prospects.”
We understand that the thesis of the article is that many folks believe social media can only hurt a college applicant’s case for admission and that indeed a positive social media footprint can be beneficial, but that doesn’t change the fact that a negative social media footprint can adversely impact one’s case for admission to a highly selective college. When doing social media checks over the years on our students, we’ve seen them featured scantily clad on beaches. We’ve seen them with guns. We’ve seen them kissing boyfriends and girlfriends. We’ve seen them making political statements. You name it. And we tell them to clean it up, pronto!
The “CNN” piece does point out some interesting data that elucidates how a positive social media footprint can help one’s case for admission. As Wallace writes, “But what teens — and their parents — might not be aware of is how often college admissions officers say social media positively impacts a prospective student’s application, as opposed to reducing their chances of admission. Thirty-five percent of the 365 college admissions officers who participated in a telephone survey by the educational services company Kaplan Test Prep said they check social media during the admissions process. That number is down from 40% last year but dramatically up from 10% in 2008, when Kaplan started asking the question about social media as part of its annual survey. Of those who said they look at a student’s social media networks, a larger number said the review benefited the applicant: Forty-seven percent said what they found had a positive impact on prospective students versus 42% who said what they discovered had a negative impact.”
We’re not big believers in college applicants having a big social media footprint, with exception (e.g., to promote a really cool business if the student is a young entrepreneur). But let’s not lose sight of the fact that a negative social media footprint sure can hurt a student’s case for admission — contrary to the article’s headline.