It’s that time of year again, and across the country millions of high school seniors are preparing to think about applying to colleges. Thinking about college can be scary enough, but now this generation of students has more to worry about than ever before, as college admissions officers are now openly admitting to scouring Facebook to find out more about college applicants. While state colleges have to abide by federal requirements to avoid discrimination in the application process, private colleges are not tied by these laws. If you’re a high school senior, consider changing your Facebook privacy settings before you apply to college.
To change your Facebook privacy settings to prevent college admission officers from seeing any information in your Facebook profile, you will need to visit the Settings section of your Facebook profile. This is accessed by clicking on your name in the top right corner of Facebook and selecting Privacy Settings from the dropdown menu. You will then be directed to the Privacy Settings options for Facebook.
First, you’ll want to control the default privacy for Facebook. This will define who can see your posts when you update your status and post photos to your profile from a Facebook app that doesn’t have the inline audience selector, like the Facebook app for iPhone. (When using Facebook.com, you will want to use the inline selector to limit who can see your posts.) In the Facebook privacy settings you will also want to edit How You Connect, changing the setting that impacts who can see wall posts by others on your profile. Admissions officers scanning Facebook are looking for information about your character, and a post from a friend that compromises your integrity could negatively impact a decision by an admissions officer who sees the post.
Additionally, if you are applying to college, consider using the Facebook privacy settings to limit the audience for past posts. If you have previously allowed wall post to be seen by anyone more than your friends, you can use this feature to automatically change all previous posts to now be limited to only friends so that admissions officers cannot see this information. While you can’t change the visibility of your photos using this feature, you can change the privacy of each photo album and limit who can see photos in the album by visiting your Facebook Albums page.
After you have made your privacy setting changes, be sure to double-check that others — such as admissions offers — can’t see any information on your wall, or your photos. You can see how other specific Facebook users see your Facebook profile by editing your profile and clicking the View As button the top right corner. To view how a stranger sees your profile, type in the name of any Facebook user who is not your friend (and also not currently blocked by you).