The Impact Your Social Media Presence Has on Your Getting Into the College of Your Choice

Social media is a double-edged sword. It gives you the chance to express yourself, make connections with people you otherwise would never know, and keep in touch with friends that live far away. But unfortunately, those who are looking to find out more about who you are — in the case of this article, colleges — can use it to find out things you might not want them to know and they might not like. This can cause severe harm to your entire academic career — a college can be impressed by your admissions letter, your GPA, and your SAT scores, but turn you down based on a single tweet or Facebook update that they find distasteful (for example, many a student who would otherwise be accepted into a college have been turned down for foolishly posting pictures of themselves drinking on their Facebook).

One needs to be aware that many colleges (especially the prestigious ones) DO keep track of your social media activity. Though admission officers that do this are not as numerous as one might think — thankfully for those who openly express their opinions (some of which might be controversial) and write about all their day-to-day goings-on, (some of which might not reflect well on one’s personality), some admissions officers do feel that such things should not be taken into account. But there are some admissions officer who think otherwise, and the amount of them that do has risen in recent years, according to a recent Kaplan Study. These admissions officers might be impressed by your GPA or SAT scores, but might not want someone who seems to be, based on their social media activity, a habitual drunkard as a member of their student body. This might seem a violation of your privacy, but they do have the right to take things you’ve posted publicly on the Internet into account and will take advantage of that right.

Therefore, those who are aiming to get into the college of their choice and frequently use social media need to be vigilant. Thankfully, both Facebook and Twitter have extensive privacy settings that can block certain updates or tweets from being seen by just anyone. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of not taking advantage of these options, and let embarrassing things they’ve posted on these sites dash their hopes of getting into the college of their choice.

So, some final advice to those in the process of applying to various colleges: if you are going to post things on social media that you wouldn’t an admissions officer to read, keep your profile or account private; and if you want to keep your social media presence public, think before you post or tweet anything that might be deemed controversial. Social media can be fun, but it also can be a liability — keep that in mind.

2013 SAT Results Show Many American High School Students Aren’t Prepared For College

The performance of American students on the 2013 SAT tests is an alarming indictment on the poor overall quality of the U.S.’s education system. According to a report recently released by the College Board, the organization that creates the SAT test, only 43 percent of those that took the test in 2013 met their standards for college preparedness. The report states that the average for test-takers is 488 on writing, 514 in math, and 496 in reading comprehension. What all this adds up to is that 57% of those taking the test are not considered “college ready” by the College Board.

This isn’t a striking decline from the results of 2012, which were very similar, but one would hope that the scores would improve, as they’ve seen a major drop in the past 15 years. And there is some positive news — the scores of minority test takers have improved significantly over the past 15 or so years, closing the education gap between white students and minority students. More good news: he amount of those who take the test have reached record highs and the percentage of those taking the test that were minorities was higher than ever before.

Unfortunately, the scores have been getting worse and worse ever since the College Board started recording averages in 1972. It seems that educational standards have been on a steady decline, and this is a massive problem considering the increasing need for the U.S. workforce to compete internationally. In some states, for example, educational standards are similar to those of developing countries, which should simply be unacceptable for a world power which needs to compete on the global stage.

What can be done about this? The College Board suggests that schools toughen their curricula, and so the solution might be schools putting in place more stringent education standards. College Board President David Coleman issued a statement saying, “We must dramatically increase the number of students in K-12 who are prepared for college and careers. Only by transforming the daily work that students do can we achieve excellence and equity.” This is a nice statement, but the question that lingers on everyone’s mind is how? Many have come up with and attempted to implement solutions, all with varying results. Legislators and educational institutions need to look closely at each of these efforts and see what works and what doesn’t.

Examples of these solutions are as follows: In addition to toughening standards, schools’ curricula could put a stronger emphasis on what’s taught on the test. But if one wants to go even further, longer school hours and an extended school year could be a potential solution in bettering the educational ability of K-12 students. Studies have shown, for example, that U.S. students perform poorly compared to students in countries whose school hours and school years are longer.

Only through trial and error and a massive effort on both the government and the education system can the SAT results be improved. It remains to be seen whether their efforts can make students better prepared for college. One merely needs to look at the continuing stagnation of SAT results that more work needs to be done.

How American Students Rate Against Other Countries

In studies done by the National Center for Education Statistics, it’s clear that America’s eighth graders aren’t in great shape academically. The study shows that only 36 states scored higher on tests in mathematics than the international average, but not by very much, and six states had averages so low that several impoverished countries exceeded them. The news isn’t all bad: 47 of the states score above the international average in science — though simply being above the international average should be par for the course for the international community’s only world power, rather than something to be overly proud of.

What’s alarming about this study is that, while many of the states scored above the international average, hardly any were ranked among the countries that scored the highest. The U.S. is way behind other developed countries, such as South Korea, Japan, and China, and in some cases only slightly above much less developed countries, such as Slovenia.

The trouble primarily seems to be with mathematics. Math is “the universal language,” and America is falling far behind in its fluency in it. A solution to the problem could be a larger focus on mathematics education and higher standards for those that teach the subject. But that’s becoming more and more difficult with states routinely cutting education budgets. 

Much of the problems seems to be with individual states. States like Maine and New York do fairly well when compared to other countries. It’s other states, such as Mississippi and Alabama, which seem to be lagging far behind. When compared with individual countries, these states are on level with developing countries. This is, of course, unacceptable, and the crisis in education should be examined on a federal level, to make sure that certain states don’t fall behind academically, with the potential of bringing other states down with them.

There also needs to be more of an emphasis on education at home and at the schools themselves. Many have proposed extending school hours and providing more summer education programs to help prepare students compete with students in other first-world countries. Prioritizing education and extending the amount of time students spend on their own education could be an effective way to get student performance up.

Poverty is also a a problem that impedes high academic performance. States that have lower levels of poverty almost always exceed those with higher poverty levels. Students that live in poor households and have problems simply having access to basic necessities such as food and shelter generally do very poorly in school. Anti-poverty measures need to be considered in addition to improving the schools themselves. There are many factors that need to be considered, and effective legislation addressing problems such as poverty, the lack of emphasis on education at home, and the softening of academic standards can be an answer (and perhaps just a partial answer) to the lagging academic performances in the U.S.