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Social media posts could affect college applications, new study finds

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - It’s that time of year when college application deadlines are looming, and high school students or transfer students are deep in the application process.

Traditionally, applications are all about the application itself, test scores, essays and letters of recommendation.

But now, another factor to consider when applying is social media. Specifically, could social media hurt an applicant’s chances of getting into college?

A new survey from Kaplan Test Prep found that 25 percent of college admissions officers said they check an applicant’s social media. That’s down from previous years, but the report shows it’s still considerable.

Applications at Butler University, for example, are due February 1.

“We have had a few cases where we looked a little further into student social media accounts and potentially set up interviews to meet with them,” Butler’s Director of Admission, DJ Meinfee, said.

Menifee says social media isn’t a key factor in their process, but they will check it out if need be.

“Let’s say an anonymous tip came in that says this student has said some derogatory things towards different populations, it’s all over their social media, here are the links, that’s an instance where we would look at it,” he explained.

The survey from Kaplan Test Prep found that, in 2018, 57 percent of admissions officers thought it was “fair game” to check social media profiles in admissions decisions.

But that same report found that 85 percent of students use Instagram or Snapchat, where it’s easier to protect their privacy, over 36 percent who use Facebook.

Locally, posts have gone viral. In Center Grove, one student is accused of mocking a rival at a basketball game. At Guerin Catholic, five girls admittedly made a video brutally mocking a classmate. They were initially suspended pending expulsion, with the school now saying the five are no longer enrolled.

Butler can’t comment on those specific cases, but Menifee cautions, fallout can keep applicants from being accepted, acceptances can be rescinded and students can feel the impact beyond college.

“It’s not just, ‘Can I get into Butler?’” Menifee said. “It’s also about specific programs and licensures.” He continued, “Those incidents can keep you potentially from being licensed in the state to teach.”

Different colleges have different application deadlines, so applicants will want to check with every school they’re considering.

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