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Don’t Publish Information on Facebook That You Wouldn’t Want Your Grandma To See

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I warn friends and family all the time that what you publish on your Facebook page should only be the information that you wouldn’t mind putting on a billboard or the front of the New York Times….or on a college or job application. It appears my advice was spot-on, as a recent article says that college admission officers are using the social networking device to find out more about applicants.

In fact, nearly a quarter (24%) of college admissions officials say they use Facebook and 20% say they use Google searches to acquire information about applicants. This data comes from a very reputable source–Kaplan test prep, one of the most popular college and graduate school testing preparation companies for students. Kaplan queried admissions officials at 500 colleges listed in the U.S. World and News Report rankings and in Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.

Overall, 12% of the officials responded that what they discovered on applicants’ Facebook pages and in Google searches negatively impacted the chance of admission. The most offensive discoveries included essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs and photos showing underage drinking. However, the debate over using online information to evaluate students is ongoing: some schools explicitly forbid the practice, such as at Kenyon College, while other schools such as Texas Christian University will assuredly check out online tips. My advice is to only advertise what you want any person to know about you–not just your online friends.