Social Media Dos and Don’ts for College Applicants
As the college admission season approaches, it’s time for rising high school seniors to prepare for the college application process, including brushing up on some social media tips to help them make the most of their online presence when applying to college. Here are some social media dos and don’ts to consider!
Your social media profiles alone won’t get you in or keep you out, but it’s important to note that college admission officers are sometimes looking at you online. A recent survey found that 40% of college admission officers have looked at social media profiles to learn more about college applicants. A negative online presence can leave an unsavory taste in an admission officer’s mouth and leave them wondering, if this student is like this on paper but like this online, who will show up to campus in the fall.
In addition to working on college application essays this summer, students should spend some time going through their social media profiles and establishing some social media guidelines to follow throughout the rest of the school year – and beyond.
Often students put a lot of effort into creating profiles with fake names and personas to hide from parents, teachers, and admissions officers online. This can do you a disservice, as social media can be a great tool to highlight interesting things about you. Instead of putting all your energy into hiding, focus that effort into creating a consistent profile with privacy settings you’re comfortable with. If your concern is not broadcasting your information to the whole world (which is smart!), instead of hiding, bulk up your profile with strong privacy settings, sharing only information you want to with a wider audience.
DO highlight your interests and accomplishments.
You can have a safe and secure online presence while still highlighting information about you that might be interesting to college admissions officers should they want to find you online. Use public posts to highlight any accomplishments, interests, projects, and more. These posts can be used to reinforce information already found in your application, or to introduce a new interest or hobby into the mix. Just like with your application you can use social media to showcase the best version of yourself.
DON’T post questionable photos or statuses.
We can’t stress this enough. Don’t post photos of parties with underage drinking. Don’t post hurtful or offensive content that is intended to harm others. Don’t post statuses trashing your interviewer or college tour guide. Don’t bully! If college admission officers come across hurtful or negative content on your profiles they might question how genuine you are in your application, and it might make it harder for them to advocate for you.
DO use the “grandparent test.”
Not sure if something is negative or not? Take the grandparent test! If you wouldn’t want your grandma or grandpa to see what you’re about to post – don’t post it!
DON’T spend all your time crafting the perfect online profile.
Your time is valuable, so don’t spend it all creating the “perfect” online profiles to impress admission officers. If they do look you up online, they’re not going to spend hours combing through your posts. If anything it’s a quick look to learn something new or just to reinforce what they already know. Clean up your posts, check your privacy settings, make sure the information you want to show is available, and move on. Don’t waste time that could be spent on essays, test prep, or making the most of what’s left of your summer break.
DO use social media to learn more about colleges.
While you shouldn’t spend a ton of time cultivating your online presence, do spend a good bit of time learning about colleges through social media. Follow schools you’re interested in and get a glimpse of campus life through Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms that give you some insight. Follow colleges and admission offices on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the college and stay informed on admission deadlines and other important information. Social media is great tool to learn more about colleges so use it!
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