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10 Percent of Colleges Check Applicants' Social Profiles 398

theodp writes "Confirming paranoid high-schoolers' fears, a new Kaplan survey reveals that 10% of admissions officers from prestigious schools said they had peeked at sites like Facebook and MySpace to evaluate college-bound seniors. Of those using the profiles, 38% said it had a 'negative impact' on the applicant. 'Today's application is not just what you send ... but whatever they can Google about you,' said Kaplan's Jeff Olson. At Notre Dame, assistant provost for enrollment Dan Saracino said he and his staff sometimes come across candidates portraying themselves in a less-than-flattering light. 'It's typically inappropriate photos — like holding up a can of beer at a party,' Saracino said. On the other hand, using the Internet to vet someone's character seems overly intrusive to Northwestern's Christopher Watson. 'We consider Facebook and MySpace their personal space,' the dean of undergraduate admissions said. 'It would feel somewhat like an invasion of privacy.'" We recently discussed similar practices from prospective employers.
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10 Percent of Colleges Check Applicants' Social Profiles

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  • Re:Scariest here... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kneo24 ( 688412 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:15PM (#25093599)

    There's always someone posting what you wrote, and I always laugh. Not because it couldn't happen, but because the chances of it happening to any given person is unlikely.

    I don't disagree that universities shouldn't be using this information to make their decisions, but not for the reasons you've given.

  • by Xugumad ( 39311 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:24PM (#25093673)

    Hell, I have a surname I have to spell for people, and a quick Google leads to the conclusion that I have my own band, regularly do shows of my art, and hold degrees in Computer Science and Medicine. Suffice to say, most of that isn't accurate.

    Sooner or later someone (university admissions, potentional employer, whatever) is going to get themselves badly sued over this, and frankly it serves them right for making snap judgments based on what amounts to unproven rumours.

  • by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:40PM (#25093825) Homepage Journal
    I worked for a company that had a ton of custom robots crawl Google, Usenet, The Internet Archive and a laundry list of other places your name or moniker might of left a mark. People often use an email address that goes "" what these things spider for is that clevernickname... part. It was mostly to embarrass people with their sophomoric attempts at debate in newsgroups or to dig up personal websites from their teen years but HR used it too. It discovered one of the applicants for the job of CFO had used his clevernickname... to bitch and rant about his last job on some obscure financial site, needless to say he did not get the job but they printed out his tirade and posted on the BB.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GoodNicksAreTaken ( 1140859 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @01:26PM (#25094297)

    Or maybe, just maybe, parents should be telling their kids the truth: "it always matters what important people think, but determining importance is an exercise in good judgment."

    The problem is that a lot of parents aren't responsible enough or intelligent enough to figure this out for themselves and an even smaller number are able to then extrapolate from that and see relevance elsewhere, as in their children's lives.

  • by zermous ( 1196831 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @02:00PM (#25094653)

    It is going to be rough for a while, but I hope that we can watch a new norm get created as a generation who puts their frontstage and backstage personalities waaay too close together online grows up and becomes dominant.

    Pop quiz: you are at a co-worker's desk looking at the monitor and working on something. An IM pops up. Do you avert your eyes? It is dreadfully hard, but we have to try. Folks conduct personal business at work. The internet makes that easy. We need to respect that and avert our eyes when they do it.

    Myspace profiles are a microcosm of the internet: the good and the terrible are side by side in the same place. You have to learn the skill of knowing when not to look, because the only thing stopping you is you. Just because you CAN look at EVERYTHING doesn't mean you should. Just because it is information on the 'public' internet doesn't mean you should look at it. You should treat it as private just as soon as you realize it is something that the individual in question thinks is private.

    Even if you don't follow these rules yourself, I bet you still implicitly follow them a little better than the college admissions boards who really have no clue and no experience with trying to keep public and private personas online. Things will change, if we give it time.

  • by electrictroy ( 912290 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:29PM (#25095679)

    I think people (meaning those rejecting college applications) need to stop being so uptight.

    I drink beer. So what?

  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Sunday September 21, 2008 @04:03PM (#25096057)

    Legality does not define morality. Rules should flow the other way. A 17-year old drinking beer is not immoral, and therefore should not be illegal.

    As Thoreau said, we have not only a right, but a duty to disobey unjust laws.

  • Yes and no. They are disregarding formal enforcement, but most are either bowing into peer pressure ("it's cool to drink") or do so because they physically enjoy the feeling of being inebriated. Neither of these expressed a particularly developed personality. To borrow a page from Dabrowski, they are both still "primal" behaviors (first factor of physical wants, second factor of social norms). You're breaking a social norm of a certain peer group in exchange for obeying the social norm of a different group.

    It is pointless to rebel unless you have a truly different, developed system of values to rebel with. Dabrowski calls this set of values the third factor ("self-determination"), and the only way I can see resistance being a positive trait is if you could somehow construct a value system that featured drinking as the way the world should truly be and were so convinced of its righteousness that you were willing to spend a significant portion of your life attempting to make it a universal value.

    I know you're using the example of Hypatia as a way of demonstrating a general principle (which I agree with), but I'm not sure that it would be a good analogy to use with the specific example of drinking. Hypatia was burned for transgressing a norm held by peers as well as enforced by society. Her transgression did not yield any physical gratification and was not considered normal, and thus must have been an expression of a value.

  • by n dot l ( 1099033 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:28PM (#25097815)

    The students' time is theirs to waste as they will. It's not the admissions staff's job to parent them. As for the university wasting time, it's paid for that time. And it's not even like they'd waste a lot letting some losers in - you know how attrition works, hardly anyone truly stupid makes it through the first month and most of the people that won't manage to pass are gone by the end of the first semester. I don't remember any idiots disrupting class from second year on when the material started to get really hard in my program. I imagine this would be even more true at a highly competitive big-name university.

    Now, if we're talking about the situation where you've already let in all the exceptional applicants, and there's one seat left, and the choice is between a guy with grades at X level and a guy with grades at X level that did some really dumb things last year, then I wouldn't object to mining random data since it's pretty much a coin toss otherwise. But if this sort of data is valued anywhere near as much as past academic achievement, or the results of an entrance exam, or something like that, then I consider it pretty ridiculous.

    Overall though I don't think we're really disagreeing with each other here. This just bothers me since it seems like a fairly stupid metric to be using at a university when you've got a person's academic history right there in front of you. I think the thing that I got stuck on is that you were talking about highly academic fields whereas I was thinking, "Hey, I know lots of people that cleaned up and went through some pretty intensive trades/management programs run through local colleges."

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"