There are two camps of thinking when it comes to advising students on social media in college admissions.
On one hand, colleges are getting more applicants than ever, and not growing their admissions teams to meet that demand. Therefore, they are spending less time than ever on each applicant on average.
Most colleges do not have a formal policy on how social media is monitored.
On the other hand, colleges are tapping into big data and advanced marketing analytics and strategies to shape and fill better classes that are better fits, and more likely to yield and deposit into their colleges.
The most monitored social media sites are "institutionally-sponsored", or Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn.
A survey report released from the AACRAO (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, which is a real organization) that has largely flown under the radar surveyed 534 colleges. Based on the survey, results showed that 38% of colleges monitor social media either "regularly and routinely" or "occasionally".
Interestingly enough, social media monitoring peaks after an admissions decision has been made - perhaps to influence yield or merit aid.
And 41% review content if "potential issues" are brought to their attention. While that may sound ominous, it is a fair assumption that colleges are generally accessible, and that issues may be either positive or negative. In either case, only 22% claimed that they did not monitor social media under any circumstance.
AACRAO is a professional organization for college registrars and admissions officers.
While we should all encourage our students to utilize best practices around digital citizenship while maintaining a proper and rich online presence, we should also be aware of the latest trends on if and how colleges are actually utilizing this data.
According to social media and admissions expert Alan Katzman on a recent blog post, "[C]olleges have made predictive analytics a key element of their enrollment management plans".