A student’s social media presence plays a major part in college admissions. More and more admissions officers are looking at social networking sites to evaluate applicants. Students need to check their posts and make sure there is nothing that will call their judgment into question. At the same time, students can use social media to positively support or enhance their application.
Here and some general guidelines for students on social media:
- Never post anything online that is incriminating or embarrassing. Representatives have received anonymous “tips” around admissions time about photos of students doing things that they shouldn’t be doing or questionable posts. These tips have caused admission offers to be revoked. Some tips are called in by jealous classmates (frenemies) also vying for the same school.
- Do not write anything negative about colleges. One student praised the school on a campus visit then trashed it online. Admissions saw and the student was rejected.
- Un-tag photos and posts. Check to see if any Facebook “friends” who have access to a student’s profile have posted any unflattering comments or tagged questionable photos with their name. If there is something they do not want to be connected to, students must un-tag themselves or see about getting it removed.
- Set the privacy filter as strongly as possible. But never assume that what is posted will not be seen. (See #2)
- Use the “grandparent test.” If what is posted will offend the grandparents, then it shouldn’t be posted.
- Do not “like” or “follow” too many disturbing, extreme, controversial or radicalizing groups or people. It is OK to have a small number, as this can show you are open to different points of view, but if colleges see this is all you like, it can be seen as a red flag.
- Remove questionable posts. Remove all photos and posts that have drinking and/or drugs, even if the child is abstaining; wild behavior, even if alcohol or drugs aren’t in the picture; nudity; hints of sex or sexuality; the X-rated and the R-rated; interests that are questionable; favorite quotes that reference illegal activities; obscene or offensive language and/or activities; anything that might be regretted including venting or complaints.
Using the Internet to one’s advantage during the admissions process.
The Internet is not all bad. Students can use social media to optimize their applications.
- Show admissions counselors a passion, interest, verification of work. Artists or fashion designers should post photos of their art. Musicians or athletes should create a webpage or site devoted to their talents. Gifted writers should start a blog. Entrepreneurs should create business websites or LinkedIn profiles. Academically oriented kids can post progress on a science experiment. Leaders should show the events they’ve organized. All students can note their awards and victories, positive moments in their volunteer work or internships.
- Express interest in the colleges. Students should “friend” a college’s Facebook page, follow it on Instagram, or become a Twitter follower. Some admissions offices track applicants’ social media behavior to help predict how likely they are to enroll or succeed on campus. They are looking at things like how many campus photos are uploaded or how many friends they have on the college’s social site for applicants. Students should also look to join the college’s online community. This shows interest, plus students will get exclusive, direct information from those schools and the students who go there. The point is for them to show their interest!