Editorial: Sorry, your Facebook profile is on your resumé
With the increasing use of social media among millennials, college admissions boards have used platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to gauge whether an applicant would fit well at their institutions.
According to research conducted by Kaplan Test Prep in 2013, nearly 31 percent of college admissions officers have checked the social media profiles of prospective applicants. This has grown significantly from 2008, when only about 10 percent of admissions officers checked social media.
Since roughly 96 percent of university students use Facebook, according to a University of New Hampshire study, there are endless opportunities for young adults to post content about their lives that they wouldn't normally share on a college application.
With this rise in unorthodox college applicant material, there are some surprising benefits. Students can learn now — rather than later, when they apply for jobs — that their social media conduct is up for critique.
According to a 2013 study by the popular job search site CareerBuilder, roughly two out of five employers visit prospective employees’ social media pages for further research.
At least 19 percent of these employers said they found something that caused them to hire the applicant.
Evidence of great communication skills on Facebook or a unique layout on a blog can advance an applicant’s chances in gaining a job.
However, we know that not all of the ramifications of social media can be positive. Of these employers, about 43 percent noted that they found disagreeable content on an applicant’s page that deterred them from hiring. So, where do we draw the line?
It comes down to a matter of transparency — colleges should leave a disclaimer on their application to warn students that they may be checking their social media.
Furthermore, if a college declines a student based on his or her social media conduct, it should notify the student of the reason. Colleges currently do not inform students that this was why they were rejected.
How can we correct socially unacceptable behaviors if we don’t pinpoint them? It is sometimes difficult to say what constitutes “bad” content on a Facebook wall. Is it posting photos of underage drinking or posting photos of drinking at all, even if you are of age?
If college admissions boards regulated this practice and trained their officers in what to look for, social media scrutiny would be more level and objective.
We need to find a balance between respecting freedom of speech via social media and being socially correct on public platforms that could influence our future.
Universities should be open forums for the free flow of ideas — but they can only do so if they are transparent, even during the application process.
by The Pitt News Editorial Board, published on pittnews.com