COLUMBUS, Ga. — The social media landscape is changing each day, right before our own eyes. It holds a tremendous amount of power in the society we live in.
Back in June, Harvard rescinded 10 acceptances of students after inappropriate posts were made in a Facebook group. Harvard said they reserve the right to withdraw an admission offer for various reasons including student behavior that brings their honesty, maturity or moral character into question.
Alan Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard felt the punishment was too harsh.
“Harvard is a private university,” Dershowitz said. “Technically not bound by the first amendment but since I got to Harvard 53 years ago Harvard has committed itself to following the first amendment and I think this violates the spirit and the letter of the first amendment.”
News Three wanted to look at schools in our area to see if social media plays a factor in admissions decisions.
We reached out to Auburn University that said admissions does not check social media posts when considering admission.
We also reached out to Columbus State University. The university told us they do not actively monitor applicants’ social media profiles, unless they discover a threat made to campus safety as part of their overall social media process for the university, or if there is evidence that an applicant provided false information during the application process.
Students we spoke to on campus practice safe posting habits when they do get on social media.
“One bad post can ruin somebody’s life,” Bryce Coleman said “Social media is a very powerful tool. It can be a necessity to people, and they are always on it, so they’re probably going to come across something that may affect somebody else.”
“I actually know someone who posted something, and it caused them to be kicked out school,” Sophomore Preston Dalton said. “That causes me to pause often times when I’m about to post something just to be sure I am being safe.”
“I make sure to read through it before I post something because I have family members that look at my Facebook page, and I think if say this, how would they think of me?” Junior Tenisha’oso’ Holley said. “If I said this, how would my professors think of me and so forth? Usually when I post on social media, it’s for something comedic. The last time I posted was probably a year ago, and I said, “if you need to contact me, I’m probably playing Pokemon Go.”
A recent survey from Kaplan Test Prep found that 35% of admissions officers check social media posts when making admissions decisions.
Chris Robinson, a professor at Columbus State tells his students that social media should be their first line of defense.
“That should be a place that people can look and try to find out who I am and see enough of a snippet of who I am so they want to decide that, “hey, I want to talk to that person down the line,” Robinson said. “That’s why it is so important to have well-kept social media.”
Robinson said that within the communication department, faculty will monitor students’ social media to try and promote good social media habits and make sure they are talking about things that will help them and not hurt them. They tell students that it’s ok to show people who you are, but you should always be on guard, as well as being active on social media and making sure the students have a productive outlet. Robinson added that they try to take the conversations from online and bring them into the classroom or vice versa to ensure there is a good balance to make sure students are not just living online.
Robinson recommends that while you are searching for a job or trying to get into a school that you do not block your social media because if it is blocked, it may appear that you have something to hide. He said you should avoid posts that put you in a bad light, but to make sure your social media is very inviting.
“Social media is a part of who we are,” Robinson said. “Anything that you put on the internet, you can’t just expect it to go away. People screenshot, people are scouring the web. It only takes a quick button press, and I’ve grabbed your post.”