When people look you up online, what do they see? Are you easy to find? Is your online presence clean and polished, or controversial and questionable?
The impact of social media on the college admissions process has increasingly become a two-way street. While students are researching prospective schools on Facebook and Twitter, admissions departments are also checking up on prospective students’ social media profiles.
When applying to college, it is vital for you to present your best self not only on your application, but also online. Your application will tell the admissions officers about your interests, the type of student you are, and how well you performed in school. But your online presence will tell admissions officers, and future employers, how you present yourself in public, and how your projected image fits in with their particular institution.
Since last year’s IvyWise spotlight on how to be Facebook savvy, the importance of your social presence has increased dramatically. As shown in a recent survey of college admissions officers by Kaplan, your social media presence is playing a part in your consideration for admission, and admissions officers are paying attention to what they find.
- 27% of admissions officers surveyed said they Google prospective students.
- 26% said they look up applicants on Facebook.
- 35% said that when checking up on a student’s online presence, they found something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting in, nearly tripling from 12% last year.
So whether you like it or not, your online identity is playing a part in your admissions decisions.
However, there are ways to manage your digital presence and make sure you are presenting your best, authentic self online, as well as in your application. Here are some tips:
- “De-tag” yourself from any questionable photos or content. Be careful of posting too many party photos. We tell students, “We don’t want to a picture of you with a cup in your hand.” Always use the “Grandparent Test.” If you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see it, don’t put it online.
- Post content that underscores your interests. Share interesting and relevant articles, upload your music and artwork, and share photos or videos from your sporting events or performances.
- Follow the schools you are applying to in order to stay informed about campus events and any other important news that may be relevant to your application or admission decision.
Online Reputation Management
If you’re concerned that simply de-tagging and filtering your own content isn’t enough, there are also a myriad of online tools, networks, and resources, like Qnary and Google’s “Me on the Web” tool, which can help you build your personal “brand.”
Based on the recent Kaplan survey, Facebook is first and foremost on the list of social channels you should be optimizing, but there is also great value in other platforms like Google+ and Tumblr. Overall, the goal is to show that everything you have stated in your application is positively supported or enhanced by your online presence.
With online reputation management tools like Qnary, you can register online and link all your social platforms to your account to obtain a comprehensive view of what you look like online in terms of search results, interests, images, and accomplishments. You can use this information to develop ways to improve your online presence and shape the message that your social media content communicates. Qnary and similar firms also provide personal consulting, for a fee, which helps you maximize your online presence in case admissions officers, or future employers, are checking up on your social media channels.
So whether it’s being more wary of what you post and who you interact with online, or simply revving up your online presence to reinforce the information on your application, it’s important to keep an eye on your social media platforms. You never know who may be looking at you!
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