Students applying to Yale need not worry about censoring their social media profiles before they receive their admissions decision.
According to a survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep in November 2014, 35 percent of college admissions officers across the country reported visiting an applicant’s social media page in order to learn more about them. This is the highest figure since Kaplan began tracking this trend in 2008, when only one in 10 admissions officers admitted to looking at applicant social media pages.
However, despite this practice’s increasing prevalence in admissions offices across the country, Director of Outreach and Recruitment Mark Dunn said the Office of Undergraduate Admissions does not look at the social media pages of applicants to Yale College. He added that information easily found via Google is also not taken into consideration during the admissions process.
“Unless an applicant or a recommender directs us in his or her application to information available online, our officers are not in the habit of trying to dig up information on applicants via the web,” Dunn said.
In a separate Kaplan survey of 500 high school students, 58 percent of those surveyed described their social networking pages as “fair game” for admissions officers. Likewise, although Yale is not a university that utilizes social media to learn more about applicants, six of 10 Yale students interviewed by the News said they made changes to their social media profiles when they applied to the University.
Hannah Sachs ’17 said she, along with most of the seniors at her high school, changed her name on Facebook when applying to colleges. But Sachs said that her classmates generally changed their Facebook names to something humorous, and that the practice became more of a joke that people participated in, rather than an actual attempt to conceal their social media accounts.
“I didn’t do too much to my social media accounts when I was applying to college,” Jordan Coley ’17 said. “But I did untag myself from a couple of photos in the winter, when colleges were reviewing my application.”
The Admissions Office is nonetheless active on social media — albeit in different ways. Officers interviewed said they use social networking platforms mainly to communicate with applicants and admitted students. Admissions’ social media accounts, Dunn added, are used to provide prospective students with a gateway to existing web content, such as campus news stories, Yale’s virtual tour and student blogs. By putting this information on students’ social media feeds, students immediately gain access to great content without having to navigate through various Yale web pages, he said.
Assistant Director of Admissions John Yi ’12 said the office views social media as a way for prospective students to get to know Yale as a place for ample undergraduate opportunities.
“Our social media platforms certainly do function at times as a news source and a forum, but we mainly utilize our presence to showcase the vibrant and engaging undergraduate life we have here on campus,” Yi said.
Dunn said that in the same way that the University does not track campus visits or contact with admissions officers before a student applies, the Admissions Office does not make note of a student’s online interactions with a Yale social media account before or after they apply.
Though it is difficult to speculate about the impact of the Admissions Office’s social media presence on application numbers or admitted student yield, Dunn said, their overall strategy in social media is to produce engaging original content that connects prospective students with an inside look at the Yale undergraduate experience.
“Our basic philosophy can be summed up this way — we know our target audiences are active in these digital spaces, and we’d like to be part of the conversation that’s happening there,” he said.
The Yale Undergraduate Admissions Facebook page has nearly 10,000 likes, and the Yale Admissions Instagram account has roughly 2,000 followers.