More students are turning to social networks to inform their college search, according to a study by education consulting firm Art & Science Group.
Forty-four percent of the firm's sample of college-bound students indicated they used social networking sites to gather information or impressions about colleges, up from 18 percent in 2008.
Of the group of students who used social media for college research, an overwhelming majority (36 percent) said they preferred Facebook; Google+ (13 percent) and YouTube (7 percent) followed.
Half of the students who used social media in their college search said it did influence their decision. Study respondents said they "read the comments by students at specific schools," "looked at notes or blogs to see what people are staying about the college," or "look at pictures of students at specific schools." The study found that students got a better sense of the social life or how they would fit in at schools than the schools' academic quality or prestige on social media.
Overall, students ranked social media as the least helpful college resource, favoring college websites and visits.
The firm concluded that "social media sites are increasingly influencing students’ college considerations," but "their role in the college decision-making process may, in fact, be greatly over estimated by some admissions offices."
The Art & Science Group's student was sent to 39,000 random SAT test takers in late 2012, with 1,138 students qualifying for participation. All respondents were four-year college-bound students.