Is Harvard Facebook-Stalking You?

Angus Liberty. Anne Robertson. Jim Red-Feather. Charlie June. Dolly Miv. Brookie Cookie. Rush Wilson. Jilo Mudge.

Whether you recognize these names or not, you interact with these people every day. These are just a few of the alter egos adopted by several seniors on Facebook, who wish to protect their Facebook identities—photographs, statuses and information—from from prospective colleges and universities.

Recently, our Sentinel Instagram and Twitter accounts underwent a mass “unfollow-spree,” unfollowing each and every student social media account after our faculty advisors noticed some “inappropriate” posts from St. Luke’s students. But before you freak out about losing a follower, we want you to take a moment to reflect on the more serious implications that may arise from posting inappropriate pictures on social media.

Meet Jim Red-Feather.

Meet Jim Red-Feather.

According to a Kaplan survey of college admissions officers, more than 80 percent of college admissions officers consider social media presence when recruiting students. Dean Tsouvalas, an editor of StudentAdvisor.com, put it this way:

In our experience talking to hundreds of college admissions counselors, we know they are actively trying to engage prospective students online. And in at least one case an admissions counselor told us they rejected a potential student based on their social networking profile.

Does this mean that colleges look through the social media accounts of all 30,000 applicants? Probably not — that is simply impossible. But we cannot control the actions of others. In 2011, a scandal broke out a Choate Rosemary Hall when several students sent Facebook links to inappropriate pictures of their peers to college admissions offices in order to sabotage applications. Although this is not a likely situation on the Hilltop—why risk it?

What we can do, however, is use social media as a medium to boost our applications. An interesting blog can help showcase writing skills and display your particular knowledge of a specified topic. Your blog can show a personal side to you that your GPA or SAT scores cannot, and colleges will appreciate that.

Video blogs are also becoming an increasingly popular tool among college applicants. Tufts University leveraged social media when they offered applicants an option to create a short YouTube clip showcasing a talent.

Social media can have its advantages for high school students, but there are also understandable drawbacks. If you cannot even fathom not uploading pictures of you and your red solo cup at last night’s party, here are some tips from StudentAdvisor.com to protect your virtual reputation:

  1. On Facebook, visit “Privacy Settings” by clicking on “Account” and set privacy settings at the highest level you’re comfortable with.

  2. On Twitter, visit the “Edit my Profile” page (on the “Profile page” tab), then scroll to the bottom and make sure that “Protect my Tweets” is selected. You’ll have to manually approve anyone that wants to view your Tweets.

  3. On YouTube, make any videos that you wouldn’t want everyone to see “Private” when you upload them.

Even so, there is no way to guarantee that college admissions officers (or even future employers) will not see such pictures.

The best thing we can do is use common sense. If you’re doing something illegal, don’t brag about it on Facebook. It’s as simple as that. Be aware of who’s following you, and think before you post because the blurred out silver can in your hand really isn’t fooling anybody.

 — Drew Lord, Social Media Director

Posted by on September 25, 2013. Filed under School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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