Do admissions officers review your social media accounts? Sometimes. Here's what you need to know.
In our experience, they don't have the time to do that on a regular basis, but sometimes they do, and they can always spot-check if they feel it's warranted. And sometimes people will tip them off about posts that are racist, homophobic, or misogynistic, for example. (Hello, Harvard memes scandal.)
Because the chances are greater than 0% that an admissions officer might take a look, it's a good idea to review your own social media content and make sure your posts, photos, or even usernames don't show you in an unfavorable light for admissions purposes. Puppies, otters, vacation photos, selfies... fine. But if they show you double-fisting beer bottles, for example, you're better off taking them down, especially if you have to make any disclosures around alcohol-related offenses. As always, we're trying to teach you to think like an admissions officer and view things through their eyes.
Pro tip #1: Even if you have your posts set to private, check your public-facing posts or photos and any comments attached to public posts or photos. (Sometimes friends can post comments that look bad; just delete those.) For example, on Facebook, your profile photos and cover photos and any business/event Page Likes are all public. So if you have Liked 16 beer-related festivals back to back, that might make an impression, and the admissions officer might wonder if you'd constantly be in the Dean of Students' hair getting busted for underage drinking or an incipient drinking problem.
Pro tip #2: The Harvard memes group was a private one on Facebook. Even if something is private, or you're using an alias (like on Reddit), it's not hard for schools to find out what they want to find out. And in general, your online posts and identity are never truly private.
Read more here ("Applying to college? Admissions officers may be checking you out on social media").
Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.