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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Thousands of local high school students are applying to college -- but some are making a costly mistake online that could be the difference between acceptance and rejection.
Manual High School senior Dishan Romine has been anxiously checking on his college applications. "I've applied to Western Kentucky," he says, "Harvard, Cornell, and the Naval Academy."
Romine has some big goals for next year and knows how he behaves online could affect those goals: "Someone told me before that you are your own walking resume of your family and your community. So things you say and things you put online, people judge those."
That includes everything from four-letter Facebook posts and questionable tweets to provocative pictures. One study reports 80 percent of college admission officers use Facebook to check students out. Some have cost themselves financial aid opportunities and even been rejected from a particular school.
Manual High Counselor Amy Medley explains, "When a student likes that school on Facebook, as soon as they do that, the school has at their disposal anything that student has posted."
This is the time of year when admission workers are deciding on borderline applicants for the fall semester -- students whose grades and test scores just barely make or miss the admittance criteria.
Executive Director of Admissions at the University of Louisville Jenny Sawyer says, "I can't even compare how much more we're on social networks today like Facebook and Twitter than even a year ago."
Sawyer says U of L doesn't look to social media for who's accepted and who's denied. "It seems like you'd be on a fishing expedition," Sawyer says, though she admits big-time scholarships are fair game: "If a student has shown something extremely negative, that could impact a final decision."
High school guidance counselors say the lesson is, "Use it to your advantage -- post photos of activities you've done in the community that show you take initiative or that would view you in a positive light."
Romine's pictures show a standout student athlete. Even so, he's still waiting for an acceptance, saying, "I'm always wondering where I'll be this time next year, so I just have to pray and hope for the best."
Education experts say students are applying to more schools than ever before, so the competition is great. They say checking out someone's behavior online sometimes offers a real look at the person behind the application.