Social Media and College Admissions: the Dos and Don’ts

Something as harmless as social media can have a huge impact on whether students are accepted into college or considered as a desirable job applicant once they have graduated. However, this should come as no surprise, we certainly live in a digital age where the social media users are getting younger and younger each year. According to a recent report conducted by the Pew Research Internet Project; 89% of internet users using social networking sites are between the ages of 18-29 – which makes up most of the first year and graduate applicants.

Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that prospective students are a target for social media screenings conducted by college admissions and employers. A recent article on the LinkedIn official blog addressed the role of social media in college admissions and documented one of Kaplan’s recent discoveries through a survey conducted in 2013; stating: “29% of admissions officers surveyed have used Google to search for an applicant (up from 27% last year), and 31% visited an applicant’s Facebook or other social media profile (up from 26% in 2012). Of those, 30% reported finding something online that negatively impacted a student’s admissions chances.”

With that in mind, how can you ‘clean up’ your online presence and use it to your advantage to demonstrate your skills, interests and showcase your character? Let’s dive a little deeper:

The truth about social media and college admissions

Cleaning Up Your Online Presence

Between inappropriate photographs, language and the occasional desire to document things that triggered an emotion on social media; there are a number of things that would constitute as ‘bad’ behavior. Now that you’re aware of the content that could have a negative impact on the application process what steps can you take to improve your online presence? Here are a few tips for cleaning up your social networking profiles:

Clean up your pictures – Posting pictures online may seem harmless at the time but they can give off a bad first impression, especially if someone from the admissions office happens to land on your account or Google your name. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so remove any photos that may be considered inappropriate. Quick tip: remove any photos that you wouldn’t want your parents or your grandparents to see.

Think before you post – Avoid posting emotions, complaining or using inappropriate language on social media, not only can it have a negative impact on the way others view you, it’s likely to get back to anyone you complained about.

Savvy Social Tips

Now that you have successfully cleaned up your social media accounts, it’s time to use your social media accounts to your advantage. Start by sharing personal anecdotes about your travel, volunteer or employment experience. College admissions are going to be looking for students who not only perform well academically, but who showcase a myriad of desirable skills. These might include: a commitment to something, such as volunteering for a local organization or your ability to balance a multitude of activities outside of your academic responsibilities.

Social media doesn’t have to negatively impact your future, instead use the techniques we listed above to highlight your personality and showcase your interests, goals and your abilities.