That email went viral — and not just in this country. When I Googled the incident, the top story was an article on the Duke co-ed from a newspaper in the United Kingdom.
Kantrowitz adds that some scholarship providers require finalists to "friend" them on Facebook. You can always refuse — but then you're not going to get the money.
The better course is to maintain a professional online presence so you don't give scholarship providers — or colleges and future employers — any ammunition against you.
Some officials try to get that message across to students.
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and a Facebook representative are to hold a forum this evening at Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County to discuss kids and Internet privacy.
"They don't really understand the permanency of what is out there on the social network websites," Gansler says. "They don't take proper precautions of protecting their speech in conversation on Facebook."
Kantrowitz advises students to Google their names to see if anything unflattering pops up. If possible, he says, see if you can revise the information.
Watch what you say. People say things online that they never would say to someone face to face, Citron says. Students should post comments that they would be comfortable sharing with their parents and teachers, she says.
Avoid unprofessional email addresses. "Hotmama21 is not an appropriate email address," Kantrowitz says. Stick with your first and last name in the address.
Central Scholarship's Goldman advises students to create a separate email address with a professional name for college applications and similar correspondence. Students can keep their address with the clever or provocative name for emailing friends.