Harvard Is Using Snapchat to Spy on Applicants

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I recently attended a Harvard information session in the Washington, DC area where the Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid William Fitzsimmons spoke to prospective students and their families. During the question and answer session, I asked Mr. Fitzsimmons about the issues surrounding the revocation of acceptance of at least 10 applicants for the 2017 entering class based upon their digital life and he seemed surprised and paused before answering.

Mr. Fitzsimmons’ responded that Harvard has and will continue to revoke acceptances based on an applicants’ digital life. This wasn’t surprising since I have successfully advised applicants for years who have been accused of inappropriate digital behavior by Harvard and other universities and graduate school programs.

When an accepted applicant contacts me before responding to Harvard’s (or another school’s) demand to verify their digital life, my ability to successfully assist them is much greater than when I am contacted after they have responded. Why? Because one wrong word in your response will lead to your offer being revoked.

Colleges and universities are social media monitoring applicants and digitally tracking applicants secretly. For example, Harvard is encouraging potential applicants to interact with their admissions office via Snapchat under the guise of enabling them to learn more about the school. Additionally, Harvard’s emails to potential applicants contain web bugs which tracks an applicant’s Internet surfing history and other personal information that an applicant would never readily provide. 

Harvard is not alone. Admissions offices around the country are going to great lengths to learn more about about an applicant’s personal digital life by encouraging them to interact with them via social media and other digital platforms. In general, I don’t recommend interacting with Harvard or any other college admissions office via Snapchat and other social media accounts because these accounts will then be investigated for inappropriate content.

If you post anything that an admission’s staff member doesn’t like (e.g. a political statement or if you indicate you have attended an event that may indicate your ethnic, socioeconomic status, religion, personal opinions, etc.) you may be denied admission, or have an offer and/or a scholarship revoked. The admissions process is an art and not a science and many applicants get admitted or denied admission based on the gut feel of an admissions staff member. 

Creating multiple social accounts to interact with college admissions officials is also an option but juggling multiple accounts can become confusing at times. It is generally cumbersome to have multiple accounts of a particular app on your mobile device and there is a risk that you will confuse the accounts when posting.  

I had a matter last year where an ivy league school accused a client of posting inappropriate content on Snapchat. Fortunately, I was engaged before the student responded to a demand to verify their digital account/content so I was able to achieve a successful result for my client. This matter demonstrated the troubling methods more and more colleges are using to spy on the digital lives of their applicants.

The bottom line is JUST SAY NO to interacting with your dream school on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc… There is no benefit during the college application process to have a robust and easily searchable Snapchat or other social accounts. The goal is to minimize your digital footprint. Consultants who advise students to have easily searchable LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. accounts are intentionally misleading students and families for financial gain.

If you want to learn how to protect your digital life from the admissions staff at Harvard or any other colleges, universities, or graduate schools I can help you. I can proudly claim that my efforts have protected the digital lives of more applicants to college and graduate schools than anyone else in the country. If anyone wants to challenge this claim go ahead! You can learn more about my student applicant protection services at www.digitalarmour.io.