High school students with an eye on going to college have been warned that what the say online can come back to haunt them by having their college applications and/or scholarship requests turned down.
A report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said admissions and financial aid officers across the country may be looking over their digital shoulders to see what they have posted on the Internet sites, such as Facebook and MySpace.
Ethicists are opining on the ethics of Internet snooping by colleges and universities, except for the fact that once someone has posted something on the Web, they’ve waived their right to privacy on that particular subject or subjects.
Indicating that the “moral implications” of posting anything on line are clear, David Hawkins, director of public policy and research for the counselors group, said:
"Don't post anything that you don't want your mother or father or college admission officer to see."
The report included 10 California colleges, but did not state which schools confirmed they were checking out social networking sites, or how often scholarships or enrollment might have been nixed because of online postings.
In his story in the Los Angeles Times, reporter Larry Gordon, said:
Calls yesterday (April 28) to several California campuses turned up none that acknowledged any online snooping.
Susan Wilbur, University of California systems’ director of undergraduate admissions, which receives approximately 100,000 applications a year for admission, said:
"Do you think we have time for that? We have not even discussed that."
Ironically, use of the Internet works both ways with colleges and universities using it to recruit students, the report said.
Writing in the report, which also looked at colleges' use of the Internet to recruit students, Nora Ganim Barnes, director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, said:
…some colleges turn to the social websites because "no school wants to give a prestigious scholarship to someone standing on a beer keg and wearing a lampshade."