The internet is an integral part of most people’s lives nowadays, with every thought being documented online. But how will your social media accounts affect your college applications?
Not every school or admissions officer looks at applicants’ social media, but when they do, what you post can absolutely have a positive or negative effect on their perception of you. Lots is written about the negative, and some students (and more parents) are tempted to just take everything down and go dark. It’s no surprise with the rise of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and dozens of other platforms that your social media now plays a role in public image. The question is, how can you leverage it?
Clean up the bad.
Comb through your social media profiles. Check your profile picture – is it in any way offensive or inappropriate? Don’t pose with guns, don’t wear blackface, don’t wear a college sweatshirt (you don’t want to show your love for USC when you’re applying to UMich!). If your picture isn’t appropriate, take a new one.
Next, comb through your posts and comments on each site. Delete anything “edgy,” rude or otherwise inappropriate – even if it’s comments your friends left on your page. Also, keep in mind what you put into the college applications. If you claim a great love of the cello, but all of your pictures on Instagram are of waterskiing, admissions departments may think you lied. Make sure you take down any posts complaining about teachers, bosses, or other authority figures (or really, anyone – complaining is not a good look!).
Expand the good.
Once your social media accounts are pristine, build them up. Post pictures about your interests, write about your passion projects like the volunteer work you do every month at the children’s hospital. If you win an award or have a major success, post about it!
Feel free to comment on other posts, as well. Before you submit, though, think: Are you posting a nice comment, one your parents would like to see? Don’t post an inside joke to one of your friends that could be taken the wrong way by an outsider.
While you’re building up your social media in general, make sure you have Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is a great platform to post your accomplishments, and it’s a favorite place for colleges to search social media. LinkedIn is the best site to show your career goals. Reblog articles connected to your dream career field, update your resume on the site, and connect with potential mentors, employers, and others in the field.
Follow colleges on social media.
Don’t hesitate to follow colleges you’re interested in. You’ll see posts about admissions, sports and college life, and you should feel free to reblog and comment on those to start building your connection with the school. If you visit a school, take pictures and tag the university, as well as anyone you met!
Don’t go dark.
Managing your social media can be a difficult task, and there’s no need to post more often than you naturally do, as long as you’re being careful about what you do publish. The one thing you shouldn’t do, however, is completely delete all of your social media. Doing so can seem like you have something to hide, which will raise the suspicions of anyone who checks, and it eliminates a great way for colleges to get to know you as a person.