Spotty Youths

Colleges Now Stalking Applicants’ Social Media Profiles to Gauge How Terrible They Are

Hey, it's quicker than an in person interview.
Imagine the shit show this guy's Instagram would have been.

Imagine the shit show this guy’s Instagram would have been.

Hey high school seniors, are you stressed enough? College admissions officers sure don’t think so. The New York Times is spreading the word that in addition to scouring your grades, test scores and every move since kindergarten, your dream school’s nosy sentries are probably stalking you on Twitter right this minute.

The Times‘s story starts with an anecdote about a young lady who didn’t get into Bowdoin after she live tweeted an information session, mocking the other attendees all the while. Unbelievably, she used her real name and Bowdoin’s name in the tweets. “It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that,” the school’s dean of admissions, Scott A. Meiklejohn, told the Times.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that this future rocket scientist didn’t get in because of her grades, but the admissions staff said that even with better grades, after those tweets, she’d have gotten the boot.

Not all admissions departments log time searching social media networks to see who’s talking smack. But that doesn’t mean applicants are safe. High school guidance counselors and even the college freshman who showed you around on a campus tour could be snitching about your questionable online activity. From the Times:

“Often, these officials said, a college may learn about a potential problem from an outside source, such as a high school counselor or a graduate, prompting it to look into the matter.

“Last year, an undergraduate at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., who had befriended a prospective student on Facebook, notified the admissions office because he noticed that the applicant had posted offensive comments about one of his high school teachers.”

Some colleges don’t tell students that it was their dumb tweets that ruined their chances of getting in, while others, like Colgate, are down to inform applicants they’ve been doxxed. One student there, for example, was accepted until the school discovered “an alcohol-related incident that was reported online was indeed true.”

In response, high school officials are now instructing students not to post boozy activity online, because as we all know, there is no drinking in college, none.

But you can’t quash teen rebellion that easily. Youngsters who are unwilling to sacrifice their cool social media identities in favor of their futures have realized all they have to do to circumvent admissions officers is not use their real names. So that’s why my little cousin’s Facebook name is Rutherford Taintwater.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com