Under the Radar

Michael Rothberg

For many years, colleges and universities have factored grades, teacher recommendations, test scores and essays into their admission decisions. However, according to a 2012 poll by Kaplan Test Prep of 350 admissions officers, some colleges even view prospective students’ Facebook profiles and other social media outlets in the admissions process.

Of the 350 admissions officers polled, 26 percent said they check an applicant’s Facebook wall as part of their review of the student.

However, only 15 percent of colleges currently have rules against consulting an applicant’s Facebook page in the college process.

According to the Kaplan study, factors that tended to negatively affect an applicant’s acceptance chances include essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs and alcohol consumption in photos.

To avoid the investigation altogether, some seniors have swapped their real names on Facebook with fake ones to evade the watchful eyes of the college admissions officers.

“I changed my Facebook name slightly to avoid being spied on by colleges, but mostly for comedic effect,” Gil Young ’13, who changed his profile name to ‘Moose Triple,’ said. “Probably some of the statuses I’ve posted wouldn’t be the best things to show to colleges due to my somewhat ‘out there’ sense of humor, but I detagged myself from any incriminating pictures.”

These monikers, many of them puns or pop culture references, have also become an unofficial senior tradition.

Instead of changing their names for privacy reasons, many seniors did it to be a part of the trend.

“The reason most people change their names is to hide from colleges, but I did it mainly because it was just fun and everybody else was doing it,” Katya Konkol ‘13 said. “I didn’t have anything I needed to hide.”.

In order to avoid the whole privacy ordeal, dean Jim Patterson advises that students refrain from posting inappropriate material on Facebook in general.

“[Facebook] is just something you need to be really careful with,” said dean Jim Patterson. “At the end of the day if a student were going to ask me for advice I would say don’t put anything on Facebook that you aren’t willing to share with everybody.”

Bo Lee ’13, on the other hand, was among the students who opted not to change their Facebook names during the college  process.

“I don’t know if I wasn’t listening or not, but I don’t recall any dean or college rep ever mentioning Facebook pages,” he said. “We have never been warned about it, so I don’t think it’s of major concern. I really don’t have much to hide on Facebook. There might be some profanity or inappropriate comments on it, but I personally don’t feel like it’s worth it to hide it. Colleges should understand that we’re in high school and that we can’t always be the ideal student.”