Social media as a university application document

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About a month ago, one of my group mates at NUGSE and I did a presentation on the impact of social media pages to university admissions. The recent scandals around data abuses (Facebook and Cambridge Analytica) reminded and encouraged me to refresh this information in this blog.
Being one of the fresh inventions in human history, the role of social media (SM) is undeniably increasing in all aspects including education. Here in education, it is not only for learning or teaching, but also the SM seems to be convenient tool for university admission committees to recruit students. In 2016, Kaplan Test Prep surveyed 365 universities across the US on how they use candidates’ SM pages; Relying on the conclusions of the study, Kaplan Test Prep suggests students to ‘filter’ the materials before posting. According to the results of the study (Kaplan Test Prep, 2016), 40% of the university admission officers in the US answered that they browse candidates’ SM pages to get information that is not in the application documents. Unsurprisingly, the study shows that Facebook and Twitter are the most popular websites among admission officers. Kaplan also found that almost in 50% of the cases SM pages of candidates were helpful to students’ admission while in cases 42% it had negative influences. The examples of ‘useful’ SM posts were mostly about students’ social projects, personal and academic achievements that they shared online. Controversial opinions, uncareful language use, sharing picture of “brandishing weapons” and others were among the factors that made admissions committees to reject the acceptance offer.

Of course, such researches are valuable, at least to raise our awareness about the issue. But how about the idea of making acceptance decisions (partly) based on one’s SM media page? In my experience, my Facebook friends’ pages hardly tell everything about their personal and academic lives, but they indeed reflect one’s area of involvement and activeness. In other words, people sometimes share the information (whether it is positive or negative) that they might not include in their application documents or tell about in interviews. On the other hand, making conclusions looking at the social network page might be dangerous because sometimes people can accidentally share awkward things that they do not really know or care about. If the candidate is a type of person who do not use SM or publish anything at all , somebody who is surfing the Internet misunderstand it as passiveness. So, this assumption, that everyone shares her or his best moments or the thing that one shares necessarily reflects one’s real life, can lead to misconclusions.

What do you think: should social media page of candidates be considered in university admission process? Would you browse students’ media publications if you were an admission officer of some university?


Schaffer R., (2017, February 10). Kaplan Test Prep Survey: College Admissions Officers Say Social Media Increasingly Affects Applicants’ Chances. Retrieved from:


6 thoughts on “Social media as a university application document

  1. I would support the research you’ve mentioned, about browsing candidates’ social media in order to gain as much detail as possible. It might be a helpful tool in gathering information about the candidate. However, it shouldn’t be a single requirement for admission in making their decision. However, including browsing social media for admission process might be biased for those who do not use these SM at all.
    I think as a solution university admission should officially announce it to be one of the admission procedures so everyone has equal chances for the enrollment.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Why not? If they have enough time and staff to look through all candidates’ Facebook or Twitter pages, it might be helpful to get acquainted with your future students better. I mean, we do it all the time. Once we meet someone or get interested in celebrity, we go to their Facebook or Instagram. Because those are the places where modern people spend their most free time. Their personal and social lives are depicted there. In some cases, it might be artificial, but you’ll, at least, get an idea.
    Back to admission case: I don’t see the reasons why they shouldn’t browse candidates’ SM pages. Nevertheless, admission committee members should regard information taken from SM pages as additional and it shouldn’t have a major impact on their decision. Because everything might be not what it seems to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is such a controversial but interesting topic! In my opinion, a social media page can influence a lot when taking a decision in the admission process. Anyway, one’s page will not leave at least one member of admissions committee indifferent. It means that there is a huge risk to lose a place at one of the best universities because of few awkward photos or posts on your Facebook page against of your GPA and other achievements. Moreover, people upload only part (10%? 20%? 60%?) of information about their lives in social media, so SM does not give us full picture or information that we should analyze or judge. SM is a space where we can create, express our thoughts, positions and attitudes, but we do not show there our academic achievements. For these mentioned reasons I think that social media should not serve as a university application document, and even should not be officially announced to be one of the admission procedures, because some people are passive at publishing anything on FB or Twitter. So I suggest to leave it optional. If some students believe their SM page is super cool and can have a good impact on the final decision, go ahead! But if others do not want to share their personal information or crazy photos from the last party, then calm down. It is not obligatory! That’s what I think will be right 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice debate on an important topic. Thanks for extending the class discussion onto the blog in a meaningful way. Bonus points for attracting the attention of the author of the research you cited!


    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do agree with Dinara that it is a controversial task. I would say why not use applicants’ social media pages for admission desicions, but then it seems necessary for universities to make it official and inform the applicants about it as a aprt of admission process. At least it will be fair to do so. However, then this method might not be so effective, as the applicants would “work” on their pages to match the requirements and make them look “academic material”. I think it works only when it is used as a “spy-on” tool, but then there is an issue of openness.

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