Colleges reading students like an open Facebook

Yes, we know some colleges and universities are looking at our Facebook pages to help determine which applicant to admit. This should not completely dismantle social networking, but could involve some plucking.  Ambitious students who dream of being accepted into prestigious institutions may start to clean house a bit, while those who don't care as much will mostly refuse to conform. The thing is, we've been warned over and over about the dangers of posting personal information online, and yet many of us ignore the red flags and smile, while our skin turns inside out for someone to like, comment, or even share it.

Here's a newsflash: the Internet is a public domain.  Information is there for anyone to see, and privacy is basically a joke when it comes to the World Wide Web. Facebook is a database, used to store your personal information and that information is never deleted. So if you ever turn into the next Britney Spears, all the tabloids need to make you a "hot mess" can be sold to them for millions.

You say your page is private, I say I spy beer bong at pimps and hoes party. I spy half naked, with random boy in hot tub. My page is private, and most people say they can't even find me when they search, but I'm under no illusion that someone with ambition can't break through my "privacy walls."

Some students at Santa Monica College are aware of their new profile visitors, and some are taking measures to protect themselves. For instance, SMC student Merve Onur, 19, closed her Facebook account.  "I don't like people being in my business," Onur said.  She also confessed how even she would look at an applicant's Facebook pages if she were an admissions officer for a college institution, because one way to get to know someone is by getting a glimpse of their lifestyle.

Many are in denial and believe reliable privacy measures will eventually be implemented, but some of us know that the Internet should be what we love it for: free, meaning without measures. Not to mention if this does change, you can bet we'll be the ones constrained, while those we don't want looking will still have access.

SMC alumni David Adamola, 25, of Carson, thinks most people already clean up their pages because of work, and he believes it will start at an earlier age, where high school seniors applying for college will start making their pages look more presentable.

"Right now it's a little x-rated," said Adamola.

The results of a survey using 500 top universities, conducted by Kaplan, a company specializing in education and published by the Wall Street Journal reveals "10% of admissions officers acknowledged looking at social-networking sites to evaluate applicants."

But are local colleges in Los Angeles peeking?  "UCLA does not utilize Facebook in making its admissions decisions," said Claudia Luther, UCLA's Senior Media Relations Representative.

Also, LMU's Director of Admissions Matt Fisfinger said student's Facebook pages are not relevant in their decision-making process.

"I tell the staff they should not do that," said Fisfinger. He did say some students request that their pages be reviewed, which then becomes an exception.

"That's the student's private world," said Fisfinger, "Unless they invite us in, we do not belong there."

Are you still uncertain if you can take your college administration's word for it?  Then clean up your page, log out, and open up your books. We do have the right to expose ourselves, but not wanting to suffer consequences for that is just unrealistic.