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College Admissions Officers Increasingly Check Out Students' Online Profiles

More admissions officers than ever admit to checking out an applicant's social media presence, but students are increasingly unconcerned that the practice will hurt their acceptance chances.

A survey by Kaplan Test Prep of 400 college admissions officers released last week shows that 35 percent say they try to learn more about candidates by looking at their online profiles on social networking sites. Yet, just 16 percent discovered something negative through their search, compared to 30 percent who reported they did last year.

Students have gotten wise to the practice, becoming more careful about their activity online.

Another Kaplan poll of 500 high school students finds that 58 percent say colleges' practice of researching them online is "fair game."  Only 3 percent believed colleges would find something through social media that would hurt their chances, 35 percent said it would improve admissions officers' impressions of them, and 62 percent thought it would not be a factor either way.

An article in The New York Times on the topic notes that private, selective, liberal arts colleges are more likely to check out applicants' social media presence compared to larger state schools that don't have the capacity because of the volume of applications. Some schools, however, have policies against seeking online material about students.

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