Why your profile on Facebook should be private re: college admission

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Public profiles can jeopardize your chances of being accepted or employed.

Social networking sites like Facebook and others are always a ton of fun. Nowadays, they’re used more than ever to communicate with friends online and to meet new people. If you’re reading this blog, chances are pretty good that you have a profile on Facebook

The problem with such social networking sites is that they provide immediate access to your information for someone who only knows your name.

Everyone hears talk about stalkers, pedophiles, and sexual predators online, and by now we’re all used to the warnings about disclosing information to absolute strangers. This is nothing new.

But what about people who are just interested in looking at your profile to learn more about you? People who don’t really know the real you, but want to? Yeah, secret admirers will do this, but can you think of anyone else who might want to learn more about the real you?

How about colleges? How about possible employers?

The dangers of public profiles

If you aren’t very worried about your overall privacy, you may understand the appeal of having a public profile. Perhaps your MySpace profile is well-designed, or you really like your profile picture. Maybe you’re just really open to the idea of meeting people. And all of that is fine.

If you’ve ever had a parent or a teacher add you on a social networking site, you’ll know how awkward it can be merging those separate parts of your life together. Now, imagine that it’s not your parent looking, but a college admissions official.

It’s very uncomfortable to think that this person might be judging you based on what you have written by and about you on the Internet, but it’s possible.

However, with a public profile, anybody can look at your information, your pictures, and the messages other people leave on your page. Although most of the people who will look are people you already know, some are not. Some employers, and even some colleges, have begun looking at profiles to determine what a person is like before making a decision.

For example, if you’re applying for a job, but you have pictures online of you screwing around and having fun at your old job, this can reflect poorly on you. You can give a great interview and come across very well, but if your prospective employer sees pictures of you goofing off, your job chances are going to go right out the window.

Should I make my profile private?

Consider if you’re waiting for any kind of a judgment about you, such as employment, scholarships, or college decisions. Then, consider if you have anything to hide, or if you’re simply uncomfortable with the prospect of someone trying to judge you based on your profile.

You should be especially conscious of whether or not your profile is public if you’re awaiting a decision, and it may be best to make it private at least until a decision has been made.

However, if you have any information up that may affect your current status (like a picture of you goofing off at your current workplace), you should definitely make your profile private to avoid taking the risk of one of your employers stumbling across it.

Even what someone else writes on your profile could hurt your chances. If someone leaves a message about getting high, this won’t help your case much either.

Making your profile private will never hurt your chances of being hired/chosen/accepted/whatever, but having your profile publicly visible can. General privacy reasons aside, if you’re at all concerned about someone passing a negative judgment on you based on a profile, you should make it private.

Can my profile really affect my college admissions?

While I strongly doubt that all colleges look at profiles to determine if you’re worth accepting, I’m sure that some do. All it takes is one curious admissions official to take a glance and see something he doesn’t like for your chances to be sunk. If you’re already a borderline decision, your profile may be what pushes you over the edge either way.

If you’re at all worried about whether or not your profile will reflect poorly on you, it’s always best to take the safe route and make it private, just to be sure.