By Yanay Rosen (Online Editor-in-Chief).
Changing your Facebook name to hide from colleges is ridiculous.
A few admissions officers check social media when reviewing an applicant. A 2013 Kaplan Test Prep study found that 31% of admissions officers review social media accounts.
“Years ago, finding out more about these accomplishments would mean a phone call to a guidance counselor,” said Seppy Basili, vice president of college admissions and K-12 programs at Kaplan Test Prep. “Today, a quick Google search will often turn up more color and context, so often these checks can in fact benefit applicants,” added Basili.
But admissions officers do not penalize for inappropriate content; they use social media only to confirm extracurricular activities.
And University of Illinois communications coordinator for undergraduate admissions, Lauren Belanger, says that due to the large number of applicants, reviewing social media is too difficult.
“We really don’t look at anyone’s individual profile for social media accounts. Last year we had over 33,000 students apply, so that would really be a large undertaking for us to be able to look at people’s personal pages,” she said.
Eric Furda, Dean of Admissions at Penn, says that his office will not systematically check applicants’ social media either: “We’re not going to sit here and try to do forensics on your social media.”
Senior Jasmine Kamali says she changed her name to “Princess Jasmine” (her “Senior Name”) on Facebook. “I changed my name for colleges so they don’t see my pictures, because they might not be interested in my party pictures while reading my application,”said Kamali.
Changing your name does not hide you from curious counselors, even if they do take the time to check. Searching for an applicant’s name and town often reveals their page anyway.
Senior Shalin Patel says that he is too “soft” to change his name. However, the senior thinks that changing your name is “funny and can be very creative.” “It changes things up on Facebook,” he added.
Senior Faythe Gomolka said the only reason she has not changed her name yet is because she “hasn’t been able to think of a really good one yet.”
Senior Aidan Arnold says that he would not change his name on Facebook. “I would never do it. I am proud of who I am, and there’s nothing on Facebook that I am ashamed of,” he said.
Rather than rely on name changes to hide potentially harmful public posts, do not publicly post anything potentially harmful. While colleges may not look at social media, employers surely will.