TCU sometimes turns to social media to learn more about applicants

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    Many college admissions offices reported using social networking sites, such as Facebook, to learn more about applicants, according to the Kaplan Test Prep 2011 Survey.

    24 percent of admissions officials who answered the survey admitted they used social networking sites to review applicants. Of those who said they used social media sites as a resource, 12 percent said seeing curse words or photos of people drinking hurt the applicants’ chances of being admitted.

    Ray Brown, Dean of Admission, said TCU does not actively pursue social media sites to learn more about applicants unless they are given a reason.

    “I cannot imagine a scenario that would allow us to systematically use social media in the admission process,” Brown said. “We barely get the applications finished by the date they’re supposed to be finished.”

    The university had more than 19,000 applicants last year, and checking each one of those on social media sites would be impossible to do, Brown said.

    The Office of Admission mainly looks at applicants’ transcripts, class ranks, test scores and resumes. If an issue is brought up regarding an applicant, the admission committee might reach out to social media sites to dig a little deeper, Brown said.

    Instances that could raise red flags in the admission office include underage drinking, vulgar or inappropriate language and photos, among other things, Brown said.

    There have been instances when sites like Facebook have cost an applicant his or her position at TCU.

    Several years ago, Brown was anonymously sent photos of an applicant that were downloaded from Facebook. The images were pornographic and cost the applicant a spot at TCU, Brown said.

    “If something is brought to our attention, we will absolutely go after it,” Brown said. “Facebook is one of those things that can absolutely damage you forever.”

    Senior marketing major Emily Silva said she knows the importance of keeping her social profiles clean.

    Silva will graduate in May and is in the process of applying for jobs. She said she wanted her online profiles to help, not hurt, her chances of being hired.

    “My rule of thumb is that if my grandma wouldn’t be okay with seeing it, it doesn’t belong on the Internet,” Silva said. “Once it’s out there in the cyberworld, it will never go away.”