In the era of Facebook.com, MySpace.com, podcasts, blogs, and instant messaging, there’s definitely been an increase in prospective college students using social networking tools to find out about and apply to colleges. Let’s take Facebook. Schools are reaching out to students with Facebook pages of their own and many applications exist that can provide users access to information about colleges. These include collected student opinions on offered courses and students reviews of professor. Notably they’re brutally honest opinions as they’re written by students who have nothing to gain or lose. Another Facebook interactive application allows prospective students to research information on more than 5000 colleges. Future college students are also reading blogs, checking out YouTube, and watching podcasts to get a better idea of the schools. As we’ve seen at International College Counselors, these students know how much money is at stake in tuition and in future earnings, and they’re being smart and savvy consumers.
At International College Counselors, our expert college counselors encourage students to use online presence and social networking tools to their advantage. Many colleges do look at student pages and blogs, especially if those students are being considered for a scholarship. The more prestigious the scholarship, the more they’ll scrutinize.
Many of us have heard the horror stories of students being denied admission or scholarships thanks to what they’ve posted. But, used smartly, a positive difference can be made with online presence. Online, a student has the opportunity to distinguish himself or herself as the type of person they are in a positive way, to showcase their achievements and accomplishments, and to reveal some of their goals and aspirations. In other words, prospective college students can turn their personal Facebook or MySpace pages or blogs into ways to sell themselves to admissions offices. Athletes can post highlight videos. Science students can show and talk about a project they are working on.
The downside is, students want to see social networking sites as a private place where they can communicate with people on a personal level. Unfortunately, these “private” pages are really public and online behavior can have consequences for young people that they might not think of on their own. Undoubtedly colleges and students disagree on the privacy issue. Most students see the checking up as an invasion of privacy. But then, no school wants to announce a winner of a significant scholarship only to have embarrassing pictures be discovered online a week later…