For those of you with teens applying to college, if you’re wondering whether college admissions officers check student social media accounts, the definitive answer is “yes.” This is clearly evidenced by this week’s incident in which Harvard rescinded offers made to ten students who posted offensive Facebook memes in a “Harvard Memes for Horny Bourgeois Teens” group chat.

Now, Facebook meme groups are quite common among prospective and current students. In fact, according to The Princeton Review (with whom I’ve been doing some work with over the last few months), Facebook meme groups for college students can be a positive way for students to get a taste of campus life.

However in this this particular situation, the memes were highly inappropriate and offensive, with explicit sexual and racist language, leading Harvard admins to rescind admission offers to ten students.

Related: New research says snooping on teens’ social media accounts doesn’t work. But this does.

Facebook meme from Yale Memes for Special Snowflakes group | Cool Mom Tech

(Funny, non-offensive meme from Yale Memes For Special Snowflake Teens)

While many students (and parents) are aware that public social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, might be subject to scrutiny by admissions officers, there are many that don’t understand that private groups and posts might be accessible as well.

Quite often, students have no idea who else is in the group, whether an official is monitoring them, or whether it’s just another student taking screenshots and sharing them. And depending on the type of Facebook group, posts that students may think are private can still be visible to the public.

With that in mind, it’s extremely important for students to think very carefully about how they’re using social media.

If teens have created some questionable posts or participated in potentially objectionable threads — even to friends or on a private setting — they should consider going back through their content and deleting. It’s important they know that anything they post may represent them in case a potential college admissions officer sees it, and decide whether they’re comfortable with that.

Related: Parents beware of these 2 anonymous social apps

To help you out, here’s a handy social media checklist for students (and their parents) who might be applying to college or doing so in the near future.

And again, this is an opportunity for parents to talk to their kids about their technology and social media use, to ensure they’re making positive choices; the alternative, as ten would-have-been Harvard students can attest, can gravely affect their future.

And more importantly (and this is an update, because we thought it would go without saying but clearly it needs to be stated more explicitly): don’t raise kids who are racist, sexist, bigoted jerks.

(Image via Melissa Johnson/Unsplash)

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