Can Facebook Hurt Your College Acceptance Chances?

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The Unigo Expert Network is a group of top education experts from across the US answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school. To have your questions answered visit

“Can what I post on Facebook affect my chances of getting accepted?” – Derrick L., New York, NY
Expert Answers

Laura Miller

Director of College Guidance
North Shore Hebrew Academy
Does your Facebook profile pass the College Admissions “smell test”?
Keep it PG!  Delete any uploaded pics (or “tagged” ones) that might show alcohol, illegal substances or sexually suggestive poses. Remove any questionable posts that display a lack of tolerance. Set your Privacy Settings so that only your confirmed “friends” can have access to your profile.  And last, relax!  Admission officers are too busy reading and holistically evaluating your college applications, not searching for you on Facebook (but don’t go “friend-ing” them either…not appropriate!).  In the selective sea of competitive students, why rock the college application boat?

Vanessa Roth

Founder & Director
Scholar’s Station
The quick, and probably frustrating, answer is: potentially, but unlikely
Admissions officers barely have time to review each application, let alone dig around the internet for more dirt to consider. That said, they might Google an applicant if the file raises questions. If a student mentions starting a national club, for example, an admissions officer might search for the student or the club to confirm its existence. This could lead them to a Facebook page. As a general rule, don’t post anything on the internet that you wouldn’t share with your parents, teachers, priest, or the checker at the grocery store. Make your entire account private and remember that if you “like” a college page, or “friend” an admissions rep, they can see your profile.

Moira O’Riordan

College Counselor
St. Ignatius High School
Online activity can help if the student is in control of the content
Never have I heard a story in which Facebook helped a student in the admission process.  In most social networking admission tales the applicant’s Facebook page stomps all over what was a careful application.  Even if a student controls what he posts, he cannot control what a friend posts.  On the other hand, a student’s homepage has, in the case of at least one student, helped him not only gain admission but receive a large scholarship.  His website chronicled the launch of an urban scout troop and the series of events that led him to the idea.

Gail Grand

The College Advisor Inc.
Your Facebook Profile could be sending the wrong message
A “picture may be worth a thousand words” but are these the words you want admissions officers to hear?  Admissions officers are busy people, and most will not take the time to search for you on Facebook unless they have specific concerns.  Perhaps something on your essay raised a red flag, or a recommender might have included something troubling in his comments.  Disciplinary issues noted on the application could send the admissions officer to check you out on Facebook.  Be discreet about what you post on public websites.  If you’d be uncomfortable having your grandmother see it, it probably doesn’t belong.

Joanne Levy-Prewitt

Creator & Founder
Internet users should know that there are no secrets
It’s hard to believe that anyone who uses the internet or social media, especially a teenager who is preparing to apply to college, could have missed the message that anything (pictures or words) posted on the internet, emailed, texted, or tweeted could be seen, and possibly misinterpreted. Since the high school records of college applicants are essentially under the microscope during the admissions process, it makes sense that other records (i.e., items posted online) might be scrutinized as well. After all, what’s the point of putting your best foot forward for four years while in school, if only to trip and stumble when posting online?

Jeff Haig

Maximize Your Education
Yes, negative online presence can impact college admissions success
Admissions officers can and do review online presence of potential students. Facebook is just one online medium that can be reviewed by admissions officers. It is important that students represent themselves in a responsible manner on and offline, as admissions officers are looking to create a class of students that conduct themselves in an ethical and mature manner.
Get the full story from 36 more experts – including the VP of the College Board, Dean of Admissions from University of Illinois and more – at To send your question to our experts, visit
For much more information about the Unigo Network, see my first post of this series: Should Rankings Matter in College Selection?

See also:
What Should Job Seeking Millennials on Facebook Do? – Very Relevant in 2012
Make the Most of College Campus Visits
College Financial Aid Packages 
College Search and Admission Advice for both Parents and Teens

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