A recent Kaplan Test Prep report claims that more college admissions officers have Googled or visited applicants’ social media sites than previously. According to the report, a recent survey conducted by Kaplan showed that the percentage of college admissions officers who agreed to do so is higher than ever before at 31 percent.
The Statesman was not able to verify whether Stony Brook University was included in the survey.
Plamen Kamenov is a freshman physics major. He is a regular user of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Kamenov said that he would think twice before applying to a university if he knew was going through applicants’ social media. According to him, if an institution is going through an applicants’ social media, they are not trusting the applicant.
“It is not that I have anything to hide, but it is just a principle,” Kamenov said.
For Fall 2013, Stony Brook University received approximately 30,300 applications, out of which only 39 percent were accepted and only about 9 percent enrolled.
Senior Associate Dean of Admissions Robert Pertusati explains that with this number of applicants it is virtually impossible for the Admissions Department to be going through an applicants’ social media sites.
Kimberlyn Rowe is a junior transfer student in Stony Brook University currently majoring in health science. Even though she stopped using all forms of social media once she started college, she believes that admission officers going through applicants’ social media sites is an invasion of privacy.
Each of these applications goes through a holistic review in the Admissions Department where they look into two basic categories: academic and personal.
While academic fit is paramount, the admissions officers also look into the personal achievements of the applicant to understand how they would deal with multitasking when in college.
Some students may have excelled in the personal while not so much in the academic. When asked whether the admissions officers will then consider looking into social media for a better understanding of the applicant, Pertusati said, “Our decision is independent; while we are waiting on admission applications we are not accessing social media vehicles.”
Rowe says that Stony Brook University’s policy to not look at applicants’ social media sites is respectable.
“I think it is a good policy that Stony Brook follows to not look at applicants’ social media,” Rowe said. “It establishes trust and makes students feel secure.”
Stefan Hyman is the Director of Enrollment Communications in the Admissions Department. He helps run and start different social media sites for the university to attract and communicate with prospective and admitted students. A wide variety of social media is used to help expose people from different backgrounds and different geographical locations.
According to Hyman, the university does not engage in any kind of activity regarding visiting applicants. He believes that there are challenges involved in doing so, most importantly authenticity. It is difficult to determine whether the person on the social media site is the same person you may be looking for, thus it is not a good practice.
Hyman said, “There is also just simply freedom of speech, which we respect.”
However, there are two situations when the university may look into and address an applicant based on their social media sites: first being that the applicant specifically asked the admissions department to do so since he or she has important materials to share, like his or her music, and the second being if an applicant’s application indicates that they can be dangerous to themselves or the community.
Talking about the second situation, Hyman said, “I would say that it wouldn’t be grounds to retract a student’s admission decisions because it simply came under our radar. I do think it would be worthwhile to provide some degree of outreach to the student instead.”
According to both Pertusati and Hyman, social media is used by the admissions office to reach out to prospective and admitted students and help them understand the university community better to make a well-educated decision when choosing universities.