College Admissions And Data Privacy

May 29, 2020

It’s no secret that our online activity and personal information are closely monitored, the data mined and collated for marketing purposes. Just look at the creepy targeted ads on your social media platforms. After Facebook’s series of privacy scandals, a number of young people have been deleting apps like Facebook to reclaim their personal information and tell tech CEOs that they aren’t okay with their rights to privacy being infringed on. This prioritization of privacy over functionality is a growing trend in the tech industry. The blockchain and crypto boom a couple years ago showed us that there is an appetite for privacy, and there are a number of new Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) that are now emerging. But one field that desperately needs more awareness of privacy and security is college admissions.

As an independent educational consultant, I work to build relationships with my students and uncover some really personal details about them. To effectively give advice on what academic fields to dive into or what profession to pursue, I need to understand the students deepest interests, motivations, and identifications. To help a student write a compelling personal statement essay for applications, I need to uncover some actual vulnerable moments that the student might have or talk about some challenges they’ve overcome. To be able to properly mentor our students, we have to get to know them really well and talk about some deeply personal information, details that should stay private.

As a result, we use the spikeview platform to organize our students’ data. We are partnered with spikeview because they provide tools to help students organize their admissions strategy without jeopardizing privacy and security. A built-in feature to the platform is determining how visible you want your profile to be, and vendors on a platform can never see individual profiles unless they are invited to. These details that we uncover with our students are shared in trust, and as a result, we take the privacy of our clients’ information very seriously. We do not ever take our clients’ information to turn around and sell to third party vendors, nor would we ever align ourselves with a vendor that did the same.

At The Admissions Angle, we believe in equal access to higher education. We are involved in the greater NYC community to give free information and services to those who need it most. In the edutech world, there are a number of platforms that aim to also further equal access to higher education by giving free tools to help students organize their admissions strategy and to build their extracurricular profiles. But these “free tools” do have a cost: your personal information. Some of these services are collecting your college lists, test scores, extracurricular involvement, and even your personal statement essays themselves. Big data has moved into the admissions space, so you should be careful who you’re giving your information to.

It’s possible to provide services that help in the mission of leveling the admissions playing field without having to sacrifice privacy, and we need more organizations like spikeview to make privacy a priority.