While your Facebook friends may “Like” that you checked in at Dave and Busters the night before your chem final and that your relationship status is “complicated,” the person in charge of your college admissions status may not be impressed. And yet new studies indicate that admissions folks are almost as likely as your friends to be perusing your Facebook page, meaning yes – those pictures of you celebrating your win at last month’s beer pong tournament might have greater consequences than just the wrath of your mother.

In a recent Kaplan study of more than 500 schools, 10 percent of admissions teams said they research prospective students through their use of social media. Perhaps even more alarming is that 30 percent of those who admitted trolling sites like Facebook and Twitter for the inside scoop on their applicants said that their impressions were negatively affected by what they found.

You may not consider this type of background research ethical behavior on the part of admissions teams. And you may be right. But ethical or not, it’s a perfectly legal practice, and it’s likely to continue to grow in popularity.

Keep in mind that you ultimately have the power over what can and cannot be seen on your pages. One step you can take to protect your image is to beef up the privacy controls over who can view what’s on your profiles – but why take a risk when there’s so much at stake? Perform a quick cleanse of any social media accounts you currently hold. Weed out tweets about, shots of, or allusions to any type of behavior that a college advisor might consider unbecoming. Play it safe. In the process, you’ll get a head start on cleaning up your social presence for your ultimate job search!

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