College Applicants Sending Friend Requests To Admissions Officers

By Staff
September 18, 2009

A recent study indicates that more than 70 percent of college admission officials received Facebook or MySpace "friend requests" from applicants.

The survey of admissions officers at 401 colleges and universities was conducted by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, but this was the first year they asked about friend requests, reports USA Today. Out of those surveyed, only 9 percent said they have looked at applicants' social networking pages to help evaluate applicants. Of those, 33 percent said viewing the applicants' pages negatively impacted their evaluation, while 31 percent said it positively impacted their evaluation.

"Social networking has blurred previously held boundaries, especially among those who have grown with these outlets," said Jeff Olson, executive director of research at Kaplan, in a press release. "We understand that college applicants these days are seeking any competitive edge they can, so many think 'friending' college admissions officers on Facebook will help them. But students need to be smart about how they use social networking sites. The reality is that at least for now, only a small number of college admissions officers actually visit applicants' social networking sites and these visits may not always benefit the applicant."

David Hawkins, director of public policy and research for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, told USA Today that possible conflicts can arise from colleges' use of social networking sites.

"I think that the general consensus among administrative offices. . .is that personal connections through social networking sites probably raises more potential problems than it solves," he said.

Similarly, Mallory Wood, an admissions officer at Saint Michael's College in Vermont, said that accepting friend requests is not advisable for those who wish to maintain professional relationships with students.

"People use Facebook personally and professionally, and I just don't feel that prospective students would necessarily understand that there is that difference," she said. "I think prospective students are much more interested in the life of a current student at Saint Michael's College than the life of their admission counselor."

Nevertheless, the press release noted that colleges and universities are "slowly beginning to recognize the impact of social networking in the admissions process." Twenty-one percent of schools reported that they are developing relevant policies, up from 16 percent last year. And 13 percent reported already having policies in place, up from 10 percent a year ago.

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