Cornerstone Survey Indicates Steadying of Trend in College Admissions Officers Reviewing Students Online

Study Reveals How Admissions Officers' Use of Social Media Impacts Decisions And Ways to Improve Digital Footprint

Mar 08, 2016, 11:37 ET from Cornerstone Reputation

SOMERVILLE, Mass., March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Cornerstone Reputation, an educational company committed to helping students and professionals manage their digital footprints, today released findings from its Undergraduate Admissions Survey, which revealed an increasing number of admissions officers performed online searches in the most recent admissions season compared to prior admissions seasons. The survey, a comprehensive study of college admissions officers' opinions and use of social media as an assessment tool, polled admissions officers at the top universities and liberal arts colleges, based on US News and World Report rankings.

The study reveals that almost one quarter of admissions officers feel having a strong online presence gives an applicant an advantage. Admissions officers reported the most impactful online content for students includes well-written newspaper articles, citations for academic or artistic achievement, and examples of community service. This indicates a potential opportunity for students who go beyond "sanitizing" their online presence and actively build a positive reputation.

The survey also revealed that admissions offices are institutionalizing their social media presence, with over 70% responding that their school had a position devoted to social media management. This includes monitoring mentions of the school or school hashtag online, which has ultimately led to schools publicly engaging applicants on social media to thank them after campus visits.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • In the 2013-2014 admissions season, 36% of admissions officers searched applicants online; the following year, 45% of admissions officers searched applicants online, representing a 25% increase
  • 67% of admissions officers claimed they looked up applicants on Facebook
  • More than half found content that positively impacted their impression of an applicant
  • 40% found content that left a negative impression about the applicant
  • 81% of schools surveyed have no formal policy on searching applicants

"We are proud to share this critical data with students and parents in the United States and abroad," said Carolynn Crabtree, cofounder of Cornerstone Reputation. "Applicants today have access to vast amounts of information about other aspects of college admissions, from SAT prep to essay curating. We're excited to lend transparency to when, how, and why admissions officers perform online searches of applicants and highlighting what can affect them, both positively and negatively. Our hope is that students take this information and start to think critically about whether their online reputation shows their authentic and best selves."

The third such survey conducted by Cornerstone Reputation, the company sought to inform their own efforts to educate students about how online presence is used in the college admissions process. Cornerstone endeavors to provide a more granular and nuanced approached to the topic of social media in college admissions, as a counterpoint to Kaplan Test Prep's surveys which are more broad.

The survey consisted of 21 multiple choice questions and one open form question. Cornerstone Reputation designed the questions to read objectively and to account for potential bias. Admissions officers' individual responses, which were recorded between July 27 and November 19, 2015, will remain anonymous.

About Cornerstone Reputation 

Cornerstone Reputation is an educational company committed to empowering students to understand the impact of their online presence. Through tools and knowledge, Cornerstone seeks to ensure the time students spend online contributes to a positive reputation in today's digitally interconnected world.

Cornerstone's flagship product, the Comprehensive Online Readiness Assessment (CORA™), is used by students worldwide to easily and inexpensively quantify the effect of an online presence on application processes. 

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SOURCE Cornerstone Reputation