How Does Social Media Affect Your College Application?
You’ve probably heard the advice – be careful what you post on social media, employers are looking! It’s true for college admissions officers, too. In fact, a recent study by Kaplan Test Prep found that about 1/3 of admissions officers already look at applicants’ social media activity, and more than 2/3 think it’s “fair game” – which means they might.
So what do you do? Delete your accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube? We don’t think that’s the best strategy. In fact we’re certain that you can use your social profiles and your online brand to your advantage. So long as you do it well and with authenticity, it can actually work in your favor. Here are are some practical steps.
- Clean up your existing accounts and check your settings
Review all your posts for anything inappropriate: profanity, racist or sexist statements, or images that show drinking, irresponsible behavior, or nudity. Delete them. Check anything you’ve been tagged in, as well. Then adjust your privacy settings to limit who can see your posts and who can tag you. Review any groups you’ve joined and remove anything inappropriate. You may be thinking, “you’ve got to be kidding. It’s my business and if they don’t like it, tough.” Hey, you may be right that it’s your business, but as soon as you put something out there, it’s no longer just yours, it belongs to the world, and we don’t think fighting this battle is worth it at this important time in your life.
- Start crafting your image
Decide how you want to be seen by admissions officers and future employers and start creating that image. You want your online presence to support and enhance your application. Images are very powerful, so include pictures of your volunteer experiences or share posts supporting some worthy cause. Feel free to add pictures of your family and friends of course. And your pets. There’s nothing wrong with appearing perfectly normal. You don’t have to look like Wonder Woman, or Batman to be appealing to colleges.
- Go above and beyond
The above two steps are the basics. A couple more steps could make you look really exceptional.
- Create a LinkedIn profile, highlighting any activities that demonstrate leadership and responsibility. These can include jobs, initiatives you’ve taken, organizations you’ve started, positions you’ve held in groups, and more. After making contact with the admissions officers at your top schools (you, not your mother!) send a connection request, reminding him or her of your conversation. LinkedIn is professional and is a great way to make connections that will help you in your future career. Seek out people in a field or company in which you’re interested and request to connect, always sending a little note introducing yourself. LinkedIn also allows you to write articles, so if you have some expertise to share, do it! Make sure it’s well written and well edited, but it’s one more way to be noticed by the admissions office. Talk to us about creating a really great LinkedIn profile. We love to teach young adults about this tool. And there’s a great article on our blog about LinkedIn.
- Create a website. This is especially useful for students who are pursuing careers that involve creating something, i.e. music, art, graphic design, copywriting, business analytics, coding, web design, fashion design, architecture, industrial design etc. Talk to us about how to bundle all your work into a great website.
While you must be careful what you post online, not being online can look odd these days. Show your grasp of social media while developing your image and expanding your reach. Admissions officers have said that sometimes looking at an applicant’s social media has actually helped them in the admissions process. That could be you.