Thirty-five percent of admissions officers at America’s top colleges who use social media sites to investigate applicants say they’ve found information that damaged potential students’ chances at admission, an increase from 12 percent in 2011, according to Kaplan Test Prep.
"We have seen students that have been involved in bullying behavior or alcohol or drugs," Martha Blevins Allman, dean of admissions at Wake Forest University, told Wall Street Journal. "We never use it as a single indicator and we don't search blindly, but if we have other suspicions, we will look."
Only 15 percent of universities have policies about checking potential students’ social media presence. About two-thirds of those policies are prohibitive, which provides the majority of admissions offices latitude to decide whether to investigate social media presence of applicants or not.
"My advice to students is to be smart and think twice about what you post online," Jeff Olson, vice president of data science at Kaplan Test Prep, told Wall Street Journal.
Though instances of vetting applicants through social media are on the rise, most applicants go unscreened, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"We leave it up to the individual admissions officers, and if something gives them cause to scratch their head, then they do it," Paul Marthers, vice president for enrollment at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, told Wall Street Journal, "But it's a very small number."