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Facebook and MySpace used for College Admission

Facebook and MySpace used for College Admission
January 19, 2009 collegeplan

Gone are the photos of Jennie van den Boogaard at the "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
You also won't find any curse words on her Facebook profile page.
"My sister works in advertising, and she is always telling me that colleges will look at my Facebook (page)," said Van den Boogaard, an 18-year-old senior at Satellite High.
Students such as Van den Boogaard, one of FLORIDA TODAY's Verge student journalists, are being more cautious about what they post on social networking Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace in fear of giving college advisers or future employers the wrong impression.
A recent report by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions found that one out of every 10 admissions officers visits an applicant's social networking Web page as part of the admissions process. The survey was made up of 320 admissions officers from the nation's top colleges and universities. Recruiters and employers also are tapping into the sites to screen prospective hires.
Alison Potter Bell, director of college counseling at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, encourages students to not only be cautious of what they put online, but also to create an e-mail address that gives a good impression.
"These days 90 percent or more of the college application process is online," Bell said. "Making sure all the potential electronic information a college has access to puts the student in the best light is important."
Bell added: "Having an e-mail address that sounds 'cute' or is trying to make a statement of some sort may not create the best first impression."
She said one student had an e-mail address that read, "ihatecountry@ . . ."
"While he may have been making a statement about country music, if the person reading his online application came upon this and interpreted it differently, it could create an immediate negative impression," Bell said.
A quarter of the college advisers who said they viewed applicants' sites said the posts generally had a positive impact on their evaluation. But 38 percent reported that they came away with a negative impression.
Not every college is peeping. Officials from the University of Central Florida and University of Florida said admission advisers from their schools don't use social networking sites when reviewing students' applications.
"We wouldn't do it because it would be information that would be completely unverifiable," said Pat Herring, director of admissions at University of Florida. "You could never trust any of the information on there."
Still, students are aware of the risk.
"I think we are definitely cautious of what we put online," said Kendall Lightly, an 18-year-old senior at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School. "I mainly use it to keep in touch with friends who have moved away. If it's something important, I don't put it online."
Some students, though, haven't gotten the message. A review of some Brevard students' Web sites found offensive language, scantily clad girls and boys showing obscene hand gestures.
Although Jimmy McClellan, a Cocoa High senior, said his MySpace page has nothing objectionable on it, he doesn't think it should play a part in his acceptance to college. The 17-year-old student has already been accepted to the University of Central Florida and is waiting to hear from the University of Florida.
"This should not be something that would decide if a student gets accepted in to college," he said. "The Internet and texting is so impersonal, you never know what the true meaning is to some posts, such as sarcasm. Content can be taken the wrong way."

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