Rejection, Race and a Ridiculous MySpace Profile

Do colleges really ‘Google’ applicants or was the valedictorian just not good enough?

There’s always stuff in the news about people being fired from jobs or rejected by colleges and potential employers because of their online profiles. We have all heard more than a dozen reasons why we should make our profiles “private” and use caution when posting photos and comments online because “you never know who’s looking at your page.” I get it, I write about it, too, but to be honest, part of me has always thought it was blown way out of proportion.

However, a friend’s unfortunate experience applying to graduate school has left me thinking otherwise. He’s the smartest guy I know (on paper, at least): valedictorian of his high school, runner-up valedictorian for his undergrad at UCLA engineering, and a manager making a hefty six-figures at a major Southern California company where he’s worked for about seven years. He also kicked butt on the SAT and GRE, so why did he get rejected from every business school he applied to except for his backup school?

He chalks it up to race or, more specifically, being a white male.

I break it down two alternate ways (although not to his face – he was already devastated enough):

  1. The quality of schools he chose: With the exception of his backup school, he only applied to top tier schools like Harvard, Northwestern, Chicago and U. Penn. From what I understand, these schools demand a certain “extra” from their candidates, in addition to academic excellence. They want people with achievements outside of work and school, or who give back to their communities. My friend has work and his buddies.
  2. His stupid MySpace page: I don’t even know where to begin with this one. First of all, it is searchable with his name. Second, he didn’t even create it – his friends did and, for the most part, they monitor it, too. Third, I can’t bring myself to repeat what his headline says, except that it refers to something sexual and contains a cuss word. And the profile pic… is a cartoon. Fourth, everything written on has to do with drinking, being hungover or sex (and I think the only truthful thing on his page is his height).

Granted, anyone who looks at his online profile knows it’s all in the name of good fun and is not supposed to be taken seriously. But when I think back to “You never know who’s looking at your page,” I can’t help but wonder if just one of those top tier schools was on the verge of accepting him until they saw that page. How different would his growth, education, post-graduate salary and life in general be if he had just set that darn profile to ‘private’ (and changed the headline)!