Watch What You Post on Facebook

If you doubted that colleges are checking you out on Facebook, think again.

You can (and most likely will) be judged one day for the rants you post online. A survey of admissions officers at 359 colleges and universities by Kaplan Test Prep shows that Facebook is becoming increasingly popular as a research tool; 24 percent of respondents reported using social networking sites to learn more about applicants.

This figure significantly increased since 2008, when 10 percent reported using social media as a source during the admissions process.

Social networking, for all of its pluses, presents a new moral dilemma for teens. Here are some tips to keep you looking good for college admissions officers:

1) Think before you post. If you do not feel comfortable knowing your mom, dad or school principal might read it, DELETE it before posting.

2) Do not post photos anywhere (cell phone, Twitter, Facebook) that might compromise your integrity.

3) Avoid curse words.

4) Do not use a public thread to get into a “shouting” match with a friend or classmate.

5) Do not say mean things about someone else online.

This year, 12 percent of those surveyed said the information from a student search negatively affected the student’s application for admission.

What does this mean for you? Be careful what you write, whether via email, on Facebook, Twitter, an online publication, a blog or any other outlet. Anything you write anywhere online on public domain space will stay on the web forever. Someone will be able to find it, even if you delete it.

So be prepared. And keep it clean.