Letter to the Editor: The Value of Social Media in College Admissions

To the Editor:

We read your Nov. 22 article "Harvard Admissions Officers Rarely Consider Applicant’s Social Media" and your Nov. 30 editorial "An Important Social Media Admission." Both mention our company, Social Assurity, and we would like to comment on them and set the record straight.

Social Assurity’s mission is to teach students an essential 21st century skill: how to use social media in an expressive, engaged and authentic manner that will effectively represent their true selves to others. We never advise students to “fabricate” their social media presence, and we never sell expensive advice on how to carefully curate a fake presence, as your editorial suggests. What we do recommend is that aside from their peer-to-peer social media usage, students also use LinkedIn and Twitter to expand their network of influencers, discover like-minded people, and to document their interests, achievements, aspirations, and service. We are also a needs-based business and have proudly and widely donated our time and expertise to help disadvantaged students achieve their academic dreams.

We support the initiatives advanced by Harvard's Making Caring Common project and by the Coalition for Access, Affordability & Success of which Harvard is a founding member. We believe in evolving and rationalizing the college admissions framework to make it more open and less stressful. Social media recruiting and vetting is a phenomenon that we didn’t invent. We just try to help people understand it.

President Faust once offered the following advice to parents of Harvard hopefuls: "Make your children interesting!” Social media provides an inexpensive and effective medium for applicants to convey rich and authentic information while enabling colleges to make more informed decisions about their character, values and commitment. Just ask your own Dean of Admissions.


Alan Katzman, Naomi Ben-Shahar and Jamie Finch are the Principals of Social Assurity LLC.