Do College Admissions Officers Check Social Media?
A recent survey of college admissions officers found that 25% of admissions officers have checked out an applicant’s social media profile in order to learn more about them. Since this number has dwindled in recent years, do students really need to worry about colleges admissions officers looking at their online profiles?
In short – yes, students need to be mindful about what they post online. While attitudes about social media in admissions have shifted over the years, 57% of admissions officers still think social media profiles are “fair game” to visit. Admissions officers can’t check up on every applicant that comes across their desk, but there’s still a chance they might look you up. So what can students to do improve their online presence?
Use the “Grandma Test”
Our online college counselors say, f you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, don’t post it! This goes without saying but often it’s good to remind students to avoid posting photos or anything that promotes illegal behavior, like underage drinking or drug use. Also avoid offensive memes or posts. Even private messages are fair game if someone sends screenshots of your bad behavior to admissions offices. Just ask the admitted Harvard students who had their acceptances rescinded after screenshots of their private messages with offensive and racist memes were sent to the admissions office.
But Practice Good Privacy Habits
Don’t want people having access to all your profiles? Keep them private. Set appropriate privacy settings so that not just anyone can see your photos or posts. Again, this doesn’t mean you can still engage in “bad behavior” behind privacy settings, but it’s a good practice so that you’re not sharing any personal information with strangers. Admissions officers know that students these days are much savvier online and know how to hide their profiles or even might have fake ones, so they won’t go out of their way to expose your private profiles as they do respect privacy. However, understanding what you post and who can see it is a good practice not just for college admissions but for life in general. This also includes also being mindful of your “friends” list.
Highlight Your Interests on Your Profiles
Use your social media to highlight your interests! If your main interest is photography, create a public Instagram to share your photo projects and include that link in your applications where appropriate. If you’re heavily involved in music, create a YouTube channel with your recitals and share that with admissions officers. There are a lot of ways to use social media to your advantage during the admissions process and help admissions officers to learn more about you and your interests.
Social media is a part of everyday life so admissions officers don’t want to crawl the web looking for something negative on applicants, but it can be a useful tool when researching schools and highlighting your interests in new and fun ways. Remember to be mindful about your posts and privacy settings, avoid engaging in bad or offensive behavior online, and find ways to use social media to your advantage when applying to college!