A Student’s Internet Etiquette and the College Admission Process

etiquetteJust because you don’t verbalize your thinking doesn’t mean you didn’t say it — publicly.

Although directed toward high school seniors and the college application process, Natasha Singer’s New York Times piece, “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets.” touches on something we kick around all the time — teaching good internet etiquette (really, simple civil discourse and restraint) to high school students.

“As certain high school seniors work meticulously this month to finish their early applications to colleges, some may not realize that comments they casually make online could negatively affect their prospects.”(NYT)

How do individual schools teach/instill on-line behavior? What preemptive advice does a school give? What on-line requirements does a school have? And, then, when a student makes the inevitable mistake/crosses a line, how does a school work with the teachable moment?

These are questions that families should consider as they work through their boarding school applications.

At the collegiate admission level, it’s interesting to see that most schools seem not to have a policy regarding when to examine or how to look at a student’s on-line persona much less how it fits into an admission decision.

College admission offices seem to default to the ‘if it’s bad and we see it, or know about, then we’ll consider it or ask the applicant about it.’

Which brings me back to our high school students and that old notion of decorum. There’s a place and a time for everything and that extends fully to the idea that sometimes there’s no time and no place for sharing certain thoughts and actions in public.

When you post it online, it’s like shouting and identifying yourself in the middle of a public square.

Before posting, always begin by asking yourself, ‘is this how I want people to know and see me; could someone ever use this to question my judgement?’

If there’s any hesitation in answering these questions to your benefit, exercise good judgment and keep the thought to photo to yourself. It might make your application (any kind) or job search go a bit more smoothly.

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

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