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The Price of Social Media

A few years ago, I had a friend applying for a visa application to visit Russia. The process was very lengthly and, as the date for her departure came closer with no visa yet secured, she became very upset and began to post about her frustrations onto her Facebook account. She then became irate as she discovered her posts had been viewed by the Russian Embassy; ultimately her visa was denied. I remember how appalled I was at the time that the Russian Embassy would be checking her personal FB page. Time has caused me to change my opinion on the matter. Social media is a public platform, and anything we post becomes part of the public domain. What that means, is that essentially we no longer retain ownership of it. Remembering this fact during one's college search is crucial.

There is an on-going debate whether it is ethical for colleges to check out prospective students social media's sites. I would argue that it is entirely ethical, other might disagree. However, ethics aside, it is currently perfectly legal for them to do so. While many schools do not actually have the time or resources to "background" check all their prospective students, it does in deed happen. Not only does it happen, there are many examples of applications being denied due to the applicant's social media presence.

One of the problems is that for high school freshman and sophomores, college seems a lifetime away. Guarding what they say and post on social media posts to protect their college application status would make as much sense as buying a bikini in December. And, yet, it is vitally important. Just as parents and counselors advise students on the course work and extra-curricular activities that would strengthen one's application, they also need to give advise on how to be socially responsible on social media. The part it plays in the application process will only continue to grow.

Furthermore, it is a lesson that will benefit them their whole life. Everyday individuals are fired from their job, or not offered a job because of what their social media profiles revealed about them. One of the purposes in attending colleges is learning life skills and preparing the student to succeed in the real world. Learning this "real life lesson" before going to college is invaluable.

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