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We aren’t our social media profiles

For some, social media is a platform for social activism and self-expression. For others, these platforms are a source of entertainment; supplying a countless array of jokes, memes and relatable content through graphic posts and videos. Just by scrolling through online profiles, it’s apparent people wish to portray themselves in different lights. Whether or not that portrayal is an accurate reflection of their character is up to them; after all, social media exists for the user’s enjoyment and convenience.

Yet each year, several students with social media profiles begin to grow wary of a recurring question: Do colleges take our online profiles and social media content into consideration during enrollment? And more importantly, is it a justifiable way of judging a student?

While there has been no proof that colleges consistently check online activity, the thought is irksome. Students should be able to have the freedom to post, comment, react and be whatever they want without constantly fearing that it will affect their future — unless the content crosses the line of decency.

Most of the time, what students say or do on social media is not a realistic representation of who they are as an individual. Social media users often hold different identities and reputations that do not necessarily line up with how they are depicted offline. What a student posts, whether it be a statement, joke or picture, usually does not entirely reflect their character or sense of judgment. Access to a student’s social media activity likely leaves room for more political bias, even if it is unrelated to the qualifications used to determine a student’s admission. At the same time, judging a student’s personality and quality traits based off of social media is less effective and precise than reviewing the information in a student’s application. While a college application includes school grades, test scores, extracurricular activities and supplemental essays, social media profiles typically show what students do during their leisure time.

It’s understandable that colleges would want to seek further checkups to ensure that the students they admit are sensible and mature. While college applications are polished to showcase a student’s highlights, social media profiles reveal more information and allow colleges to reevaluate a student’s behavior and interactions with others. For example, administrators at Harvard College rescinded acceptances for over 10 students in 2017 due to the exchange of offensive racist and sexually-explicit memes in a Facebook group chat. Even though many complained that the students took the memes simply as a joke, Harvard decided that the lack of consideration and sensitivity in their actions was unacceptable.

While colleges can easily quantify a student’s academic success through grades and test scores, their greatest problem comes with accurately identifying a student’s personality. In cases like these, social media profiles may be able to provide more insight.

As someone who does agree that colleges should take into account a student’s character and personality, I realize the importance and crucial impact of how we portray ourselves on social media. However, it’s not wrong for students to be able to loosen up a little bit without fearing that their online profiles will compromise their college decisions. Whether we choose to take our social media profiles seriously or not, it is typically not a reliable source of information for colleges to base sound judgments on.  

By Jessica Huang, Online lead

Editorial cartoon by Natalie Jiang


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