Student’s Online Activity Leads University to Revoke Early Admission

Cody Semrau

A November 9, 2013 The New York Times article titled, “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets,” quoted Gary Ross, Colgate’s Dean of Admission, describing an applicant whose admission to the University was revoked after an alcohol-related incident was posted online.

“We were sent a link to a hometown newspaper that involved a student who had been accepted already, so we investigated it and were able to contact local authorities to verify the student responsible,” Ross said in response to the article.

Although Ross would not go into detail on the exact nature of the incident, it involved an underage student who was caught driving under the influence of alcohol. After contacting local authorities and involving the student, Ross was able to confirm the incident and subsequently revoke the student’s

acceptance offer.

The New York Times article focused on the growing trend of college admissions offices incorporating social media into the application process. Of the 381 college admissions officers who responded to a Kaplan telephone questionnaire, 31 percent said they had used social media to learn more about an applicant, while 30 percent of those said that they had found information that had negatively impacted an applicant’s

admission prospects.

Besides the one incident reported by The New York Times, Ross could not think of many analogous events happening at Colgate in recent years. However, one incident he recalled involved a student who applied to Colgate early-decision and then used social media to state that the student had also applied early-decision to another college. Despite the fact that this violates College Board admissions practices, the student flaunted that they would never get caught -the student did, and Colgate denied the applicant admission.

But Ross notes that such incidents are very rare.

“It is so time consuming to get 8,700 applications read,” Ross said. “So if something comes to our attention that seems legitimate, we will use social media to look into it. But there isn’t the time to do that for every applicant, so generally it is our practice not to use social media.”

Ross also noted that not everything that appears on social media is actually problematic.

“By far and away, the social media links we are provided with are positive things,” Ross said, referring to YouTube videos of an applicant’s musical performance, or articles detailing their prominent achievements.

In the end, though, Ross said the proliferation of social media within the past decade has done little to change the way that Colgate makes its admissions decisions.

“Our responsibility is to our applicants and getting them decisions in a timely manner,” Ross said.

The Class of 2018 is expected to receive their letters of acceptance during the third week of March.