Who’s checking your profile?

By Allison Hamburger

Ranging from puns and outlandish nicknames to broken-up first names, an increasing number of seniors’ Facebook names changed to fake names during the past few months.

For example, one student became Ga Byy, another changed his name to Nick Harvester, a play on words for his real name, and another became Cap Xtine, based on her nickname, on the popular social networking site.

The trend, which boomed as seniors started submitting college applications, was in part due to rumors that college admissions offices look at prospective students’ profiles.

These rumors are true to some extent, said Dean Rose-Ellen Racanelli, who attended a National Association of College Admissions Counselors conference where they discussed the topic.

“There are a lot of young admissions counselors, and they did say that they would go on [facebook.com][…] if somebody is questionable or they just decided on their own to do it, […] and it was of concern to them if it didn’t put the candidate in the best light,” Racanelli said.

Princeton University Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said in a WSJ On Campus webcast “Inside the Admissions Office” that students should assume that anything they post could be seen by an admissions officer.

“Do we have time to go back and look at Facebook pages on a regular basis?” Rapelye said. “No. But if there is something that is compromising on your Facebook page or that you have done on the web you maybe are not proud of, you should probably do everything you can to clean that up before you begin the admissions process.”

Racanelli advises seniors to be cautious of what they post on Facebook as it may hurt them in the admission process, as well as in looking for jobs or internships.

Cap Xtine chose to post a fake name in October so that her Facebook page does not play any role in her college application process, she said. She intends to leave her fake profile name, a nickname from her soccer team, for another month.

“Many seniors have changed their names to rather humorous names, and it has become more about the cleverness of the name rather than shielding Facebooks from colleges,” Cap Xtine said.

Dean Canh Oxelson said that one way colleges could gain access to a profile is when high school students meet college students while visiting the school and wind up becoming Facebook friends with those college students.

“Even if you change your name, there are connections being made all over the place,” Oxelson said. “It’s one of the nice things about Facebook, but it also means that you never know who is connected to who and how they might end up seeing your page, whether or not your real name is on there.”

However, some seniors decided to put up a different name simply for fun.

“I changed my name because I felt like it gave me a chance to poke fun at my own name,” Harvester said.

Ga Byy also modified her name to follow the current trend.

“I just wish I could have been more creative this summer when coming up with a fake name — Ga Byy isn’t too exciting,” she said.

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