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Monday, Aug. 31st 2020


In our work, we see social media impact students in profound ways. We have seen posts to Facebook that request general study tips result in a student’s dismissal for academic dishonesty; we have seen Snapchat messages used as critical evidence in Title IX matters; and most recently, we have seen a student have his college admission rescinded due in part to social media posts he created.

While it is widely known that a “clean” social media presence is important when one is seeking employment, a lesser-known fact is that social media posts can affect college admissions, or can result in suspensions or dismissals once a student has matriculated. We see that colleges and universities, like employers, care about more than a student or applicant’s GPA, ACT, and SAT scores. Colleges and universities want to know that individuals who are accepted and matriculate represent the institution well in all matters, including in how they interact with others on social media.

We have seen in our practice that social media history from years before a student even applied to a college or university can cause the institution to reconsider an applicant or even rescind an offer of admission once brought to the institution’s attention. It is important for college and university applicants to note that some college applications and admission materials contain clauses that require a student to maintain the college or university’s standards between an offer of admission and a student’s matriculation to a college or university.

Even after accepting an offer of admission, students should carefully consider what they post on social media. Certain social media history and content may cause an applicant to be considered to have lied or omitted certain facts on their application. We have also seen investigations into applicants, prompted by social media history and posts brought to a university’s attention by a third party, which result in the discovery of information omitted from a student’s application. Colleges and universities often consider such omissions grounds for rescinding admission.

Federal courts in the United States have held in favor of schools rescinding offers of admission when omissions or falsehoods are discovered. It is therefore incredibly important for admitted students and applicants to be candid in their applications, and not to prompt any reexamination of their application by posting to social media that which they would not want a college or university to see.

A student rights lawyer can help you understand your First Amendment rights and protections, which vary depending on whether you are a student of a public or private institution. Generally, students have greater First Amendment protections at public institutions, but even public colleges and universities can consider students’ social media activity to be a violation of their student codes of conduct and professionalism, thereby creating grounds for dismissal, suspension, rescinded admission, or other sanctions.

The First Amendment protects your right to speak on matters of public concern, not to post inappropriate messages such as those related to sexual misconduct or violence. Private colleges and universities have more discretion over whether they deny admission, rescind admission, dismiss or otherwise sanction an applicant or student for speech engaged in on social media. A student rights lawyer can still help a student to understand their contractual rights with regard to their admission or matriculation to a private college or university.

For assistance in understanding your rights if you are being investigated or have been disciplined for your activity on social media, you may request a free initial consultation:

Clifford Cohen (cac@studentrightslawyers.com) or 785.979.7361

Andrew Duncan (ad@studentrightslawyers.com) or 785.979.7361

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