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EDITORIAL: One last lesson for grads - about online postings

EDITORIAL: One last lesson for grads - about online postings

Like it or not, fair or not, what you post online as kids will follow you into adulthood
EDITORIAL: One last lesson for grads - about online postings
Photographer: yangtak/Shutterstock

Here’s a timely life lesson for high school graduates and the underclassmen coming up behind you.

Your online stupidity is graduating with you.

It will follow you into college. It will follow you into employment. It will pop up whenever you least expect it, at any time during your life, and it very well might derail your best-laid plans. Adjust your online conduct accordingly.

Don’t take it from us old people. After all, what do we know?

Take a lesson from one of your peers.

Kyle Kashuv — an 18-year-old graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and survivor of the school shooting massacre there in February 2018 — recently got a rejection letter from Harvard College.

That’s not so unusual. What’s unusual is that the college initially accepted him, only to later reverse its decision.

The reason: The discovery of a collection of racial slurs and other offensive statements he had made and shared online in a chat forum with a group of classmates when he was 16 years old.

The admissions people at Harvard got wind of a video of screenshots posted by a classmate and determined that Kashuv no longer met their high standards for “maturity and moral character.”

Forget your 5.4 GPA, kid. Forget your 1550 on the SATs. You’re out. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Kashuv made every effort to apologize and atone for his comments. But the college stuck to its decision.

The student has since gone online to claim he’s being treated unfairly.

He’s a pro-gun advocate, and some of his defenders say his political viewpoints are what’s really behind the college’s decision to drop him.

Child development experts say the brains of 16-year-olds are not fully developed and can lead to kids making irrational, thoughtless decisions like this. 

Others didn’t defend his conduct. They just said dumb things you do as a kid shouldn’t follow you into adulthood. 

All of those points are perfectly valid.

On the other hand, even at age 16, you should know it’s wrong to post racist, anti-Semitic and other offensive posts online. And if you aspire to go to college or get a job when you turn 18, you must realize that the only body of work that colleges and employers have to judge you on is what you did as a teenager.

Whether it’s right or not and whether it’s fair or not, you will be judged by what’s posted online — whether it’s making offensive comments like this kid did, or complaining about your boss, or if you’re regularly dropping F-bombs chatting online with your friends, or if you or someone else posts photos of you drinking or in sexually suggestive poses.

The new reality is that it can, and often will, follow you after graduation.

College admissions officials and employers are watching, and they are taking your actions into consideration when deciding whether to offer a scholarship or job to you or to someone else.

After school gets out, you might forget lot of things.

Don’t forget this.

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