Admissions Counselors Hiring Facebook as a Spy?

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Admissions Counselors Hiring Facebook as a Spy?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for College AdmissionsSo you visited Johns Hopkins University last weekend to see if you could see yourself there and took to Facebook that night to update your status to read: “The interviewer was a gray-haired freak with a lazy eye… sounded like Kermit the Frog.”  Sounds harmless enough right?

Mistake. Big mistake.

According to a recent press release, student recruiting firm TargetX is now making it possible for admissions offices to rely on a teenager’s best friends – Facebook and Twitter— to find out how prospective students and parents of prospects treat them in cyber world.

"This is a chance for schools to bring all that social stuff into their CRM strategy," said TargetX CEO Brian Wm. Niles in a statement. "You can now get a complete picture of your prospects, including what they're saying and thinking about you on Facebook and Twitter."

The result, according to Niles, is the first real 360 degree view of students.

"If you're not paying attention to what they're posting, you're missing what's most important these days," he explains. "What students say on social networks offers the most complete and authentic picture of their interests, concerns, goals – perhaps even the likelihood that they will or won't enroll in your school."

Does this remind anyone else of phone taps?

I am all for colleges getting hipper and younger by reaching out to prospective coeds through Facebook but to use the same site that is used for venting as a means to “spy” on a kid? I don’t know it puts a bad taste in my mouth.

Truth be told, any kid who is careless enough to lambast a school they are interested in going to on a social media site is not necessarily worthy of attending the school. And any kid who does this without making his/her profile restricted to “friends only” is also maybe not ready to be college bound.

But there is still something upsetting that a platform that teens use to talk with each other could be the very reason that a kid doesn’t get admitted to a college.

This is actually the very reason why I have a huge problem with colleges looking to find kids on Facebook before deciding whether to let them in. While I am not about to condone underage drinking or other illicit activities on my blog, I think we can all agree that kids will be kids. And for every teen that abuses alcohol consumption and documents his/her keg stand on Facebook, there are dozens of other kids that are simply having fun (and then posting pictures of that fun on Facebook). Should a kid who makes straight As but wants to let loose on a Saturday night and have a beer really be turned down from Harvard just because a picture of him holding a Bud Light can surfaces on Facebook?

My take on all of this – let admissions counselors do their jobs the old fashioned way. Consider GPAs, extracurricular activities, college essays, SATs and in person interviews. Stay away from a site that teens use at that point in life to create a façade of who they really are. 




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