Senior Facebook Names: Punny or Protective?

By ALEX MARSHALL

Throughout the United States, a large number of high school seniors have been drawn to change their Facebook names before applying and committing to colleges. Some seniors do this for fun, others do this for safety.

Jericho senior Nina Glodstein is one of many who changed her Facebook name for senior year. "I changed my Facebook name for senior year because I thought that the name I came up with was creative, funny, and shouldn't have gone to waste," says Glodstein.

Jericho senior Nina Glodstein is one of many who changed her Facebook name for senior year because “I thought that the name I came up with was creative, funny, and shouldn’t have gone to waste.”

Why do so many seniors alter their online identities? Over the past few years, many universities have used social media profiles to spotlight inappropriate behavior as a reason to not admit a student to their school. According to a Kaplan Survey posted on the Huffington Post, more than 80% of admissions workers take social media profiles into consideration during the college application process. In its terms of use, Facebook has a rule that requires users to file under their true name to prevent identity theft, but seniors find a way around it. However, as the years have passed, the idea of changing one’s Facebook identity has evolved from being strictly protective to becoming more of a social trend.

“I don’t think it changes things unless you have something that needs to be hidden,” said Jericho High School alumnus and current freshman at Hobart and William Smith Colleges Talia Alon. “There are records online of your name through Facebook before it is changed so I don’t feel that a senior name does much.”

Some members of Jericho’s current class of 2014 view the tradition differently. Jericho senior Alyssa Woldar changed her Facebook name and she believes that, “Whether or not one is admitted to college should have nothing to do with their Facebook profile.” Jessica Fuchs, another Jericho senior who changed her Facebook name, feels that, “The majority of all seniors change their names prior to senior year beginning and then after they commit to a university, he or she changes their name back to their actual identity” and that she feels “changing a Facebook name doesn’t really make a difference in the application process” and agrees that the trend has become more of a tradition than a precautionary measure. Both Woldar and Fuchs agree that social profiles shouldn’t have an impact on the application process.

Mueller agrees with Woldar and Fuchs that the tradition of changing Facebook names for senior year has become more of a trend than a protective measure. She believes that a social media profile does reflect who you are and chose not to change her social identity.  Mueller stated, “I wasn’t worried about changing my Facebook name because I have nothing to hide.”

Jericho High School Guidance Counselor and former college admissions worker at Hofstra University Jason Rubinstein gave his opinion on the matter. “I am aware that some students change their Facebook names, and I have not had any specific experiences with a college reviewing a student’s profile.  My understanding is that the colleges generally don’t have enough time to do this; [however], I believe it’s their right to check. Although it’s unlikely that this takes place for the majority of college applicants. When a college receives 20,000+ applications, there’s just not enough time to search Facebook and other social networking sites. In my opinion, changing a name is unlikely to impact the outcome of the process.”

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