March 3rd, 2013 | University

Penn admissions officer fired for mocking applicants

As university admissions offices ramp up their use of social media outlets such as Facebook to evaluate prospective students, one admissions officer herself came under fire for inappropriate behavior on the same media platform.

Nadirah Farah Foley, an admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania, was found to have shared excerpts from applicants’ essays on her personal Facebook page in late 2012. Foley, who is no longer employed by UPenn, mocked several essays she had come across during her work in evaluating applications from students in Connecticut. Her Facebook postings were anonymously sent as screenshots to UPenn Dean of Admissions Eric Furda and The Daily Pennsylvanian.

In one Facebook post, Foley made fun of an applicant who posted about his “long and deep” connections to UPenn, where he had been circumcised at Penn Hillel years ago. In another, Foley posted an excerpt from a student who described overcoming his fear of using the bathroom outdoors while camping in the wilderness.

Foley’s name was removed by the UPenn admissions office from its online listing of admissions officers shortly after the office learned about the Facebook posts in late 2012.

Admissions counselors, officers and experts said Foley’s case raises unsettling questions about the impact of social media on the admissions process.

“What happened here is an interesting case study, and really among the first of its type that I’ve heard of,” Steven Goodman, a Top Colleges educational consultant, told The Daily Pennsylvanian in a Feb. 26 article. “As admissions has jumped into the social media world with more fervor than ever before, there’s certainly the possibility of something like this happening elsewhere. I think the question of what rules we’re going to put in place to prevent this is going to be on our minds a lot more as things continue to unfold.”