Your Facebook activity could keep you out of college

Summary:Colleges and universities are refusing to accept students; not only based on your high school grades, transcripts or personal statements, but based on their Facebook profile.

It has been reported today that some colleges and universities are refusing to accept students; not only based on your high school grades, transcripts or personal statements, but based on their Facebook profile.

It's one of those things you think you already knew, but never quite believed.

But one student drew the short straw, when a letter sent to her described how her acceptance was refused, based on the findings of an independent consulting firm that gathered  information from her Facebook profile.

College application denied

Colleges are allegedly using a firm named 'Academic Profiling Facebook Lifestyles', based in Kansas, to assess a prospective students' lifestyle choices and misjudgments; all of which are often subjectively assessed based on the thorough 'documented evidence' the younger generational users often put up on the site.

The profilers supposedly act as friends and add themselves to prospective students' friends list, and once accepted have full access to their profile. One of the reasons for this is to "see that students admitted to their school speak intelligently outside of the classroom, as well as within it".

But with increased competition for scholarships for lesser socioeconomically viable students, the need for the brightest and smartest is necessary to vet out the weaker students from the more academically minded.

Yet, this is not the way to go about it. It's unethical, and nothing short of spying. It's a deplorable act of invasion of one's privacy.

But ultimately, students are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Would you want to go to a university which spied on you? Maybe not, but arguably, if it's Harvard, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge, leaving with a degree from one of these institutions could set one up for life.

Students who are quite literally one-hundred percent dedicated to their college work, cannot be considered 'true' students. College is about meeting people, having fun, socialization and questioning, finding values you never thought you had, and politicization. It isn't simply about the work, though it should of course be a priority.

One wise soul once told me, "university is the place you meet your future husband or wife, or both".

A degree is a degree, but it is once again a reminder to all those part of the younger generation. Once you put something online, you can never take it down again.

Colleges should seriously re-think this policy on 'vetting' students in this way. Surely character is just as important as knowledge and the ability to apply oneself?

I agree, as I'm sure many others will, that vetting a prospective student for an academic programme is important, to ensure that money and resources are not being wasted on someone, as students are ultimately an investment for the university that teach them. But surely an entry test or some form of written exam is far more appropriate - even psychometric tests - are better than the direct invasion of one's private life?

Should colleges spy on their prospective students? Have your say!

Editor's note: Before any readers close their Facebook accounts, please be assured that Zack is only kidding. Some bloggers simply can't resist the lure of April Fools.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Banking

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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