The percentages of college admissions officers who say they have Googled an applicant (29%) or visited an applicant’s Facebook or other social networking page to learn more about them (31%) have risen to their highest levels yet, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of college admissions officers*. When Kaplan first began tracking this issue in 2008, barely 10% of admissions officers reported checking an applicant’s Facebook page. Last year, 27% had used Google and 26% had visited Facebook — up from 20% and 24%, respectively, in 2011. “As social media has skyrocketed from being the domain of a younger generation to societal ubiquity, the perceived taboo of admissions officers checking applicants online has diminished,” said Seppy Basili, Vice President, Kaplan Test Prep. “Granted, most admissions officers are not tapping into Google or Facebook, and certainly not as a matter of course. But there’s definitely greater acknowledgment and acceptance of this practice now than there was five years ago.” Despite the growth in online checking, however, there’s been a dip — to 30% this year from 35% in Kaplan’s 2012 survey — in the number of admissions officers reporting that they’re finding something that negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances. And notably, in a separate survey of college-bound students**, more than three-quarters said they would not be concerned if an admissions officer Googled them. In response to the question, “If a college admissions officers were to do an online search of you right now, how concerned would you be with what they found negatively impacting your chances of getting in?” 50% said they would be “Not at all concerned” while 27% said “Not too concerned.” Only 14% of students said they would be “Very concerned” while the remainder said they would be “Somewhat concerned.” “Many students are becoming more cautious about what they post, and also savvier about strengthening privacy settings and circumventing search,” said Christine Brown, Executive Director of College Admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. Kaplan’s student survey also showed that 22% had changed their searchable names on social media, 26% had untagged themselves from photos, and 12% had deleted their social media profiles altogether.
“Our advice to college applicants is to run themselves through online search engines on a regular basis to be aware of what information is available about them online, and know that what’s online is open to discovery and can impact them,” said Basili. “Sometimes that impact is beneficial, if online searches turn up postings of sports scores, awards, public performances or news of something interesting they’ve undertaken. But digital footprints aren’t always clean, so students should maintain a healthy dose of caution, and definitely think before posting.”For more information about Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of college admissions officers, please contact Russell Schaffer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.453.7538. * For the 2013 survey, 381 admissions officers from the nation’s top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities – as compiled from U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between July and August 2013. ** 422 Kaplan students who took the SAT the ACT between December 2012 and April 2013 were surveyed by email. About Kaplan Test Prep Kaplan Test Prep ( www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services. Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO)