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More schools are turning to social networking sites to help them decide whether a college applicant deserves admission.
A survey done by Kaplan, Inc., found one in 10 admissions officers is checking out MySpace, Facebook and other sites to screen students. But the University of Utah's admissions counselors aren't among them. In fact, the survey says most admissions officials hadn't even thought of it.
Students have mixed reviews. One young woman points out it defeats the purpose of all that hard work on her application. She says, "I would want them to focus more on the things I actually put in my application." And a young man adds, "It's discrimination."
But some students say they could understand why schools would want to look beyond the application material. "Facebook kind of tells, like, your personality and the types of things that you're into," says one young woman. And a campus worker says, "You'd be able to find out if they're all hooked on marijuana."
The Kaplan survey says most counselors who look at social networking sites only do it to contact applicants. Jeff Olson, executive director of research for Kaplan test prep and admissions, says 25 percent of those who report viewing applicants' sites came away with a positive impression. But 38 percent came away with the opposite view. He says, "The social networking frontier is a bit like the Wild West for colleges and universities -- everyone is trying to figure out how to navigate it."
What bothers the students who don't like the idea is that once counselors are on the Web sites, there's nothing to keep them from being influenced by what they see there, regardless of their good intentions.