If you are thinking about posting something that you probably wouldn’t want to put in your college application, don’t do it.
If you are a high-achieving student who wants to be accepted into an elite college, you should be careful with how you use social media. You may have read about other students’ acceptances being rescinded because of pictures and comments they posted to social media, and it can and likely will happen again. It is important that you understand how to act online and to refrain from engaging in any behavior that may be viewed negatively. If you have posted anything on social media that you now think might not place you in a positive light, you should make certain to clean your accounts up and refrain from making ill-thought out posts now and into the future.
The Role of Social Media in College Admissions
College admissions have become increasingly competitive. Admissions officers at many schools, including the Ivy League colleges, are turning to other sources of information about applicants. Many admissions officers routinely look at prospective students’ social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and others. In one study, 35 percent of college admissions officers from 350 universities and colleges reported that they regularly check the social media accounts of applicants so they can gain more insight into who they are beyond their applications. Another study found that as much as 86 percent of admissions officers look at prospective students’ social media accounts in order to protect the reputations of their schools. Harvard recently made national news when it rescinded admissions offers to 10 incoming freshmen because of offensive posts that the students had made in a private Facebook group that was reported to the school. What happened to those students should serve as a wake-up call to others to take care with what they post on their own social media accounts.
Check out this article featuring advice from Going Ivy CEO Erin Goodnow for more information on the role of social media in the college admissions process.
Know What Not to Post
Social media has broadened our respective worlds and is a platform that is used by millions of people to express themselves and to interact with each other. It is important that you use social media responsibly. You should not post things that you think could be potentially controversial. The way that you should view social media is that if you are thinking about posting something that you would not want to put in your college application, don’t do it. If you have even the slightest doubt, don’t post it. What you say on social media can truly come back to haunt you in the future.
Increase Your Social Media Accounts’ Privacy Settings
Having the strongest privacy and security settings possible on your social media accounts is important for both the college admissions process as well as in other areas of your life. When you post anything online, that information can follow you throughout your life. If your privacy settings are strong, it can prevent prying eyes from looking through your accounts. Even after college, you will find that many employers routinely look at their prospective employees’ social media accounts, weeding out those applicants who have controversial online presences. You should understand that even with strong privacy settings, it is still important for you to watch what you say online. In the Harvard case, the students were in a private group, but they were still discovered because one of the members of the group was offended and reported them to the school. You should also understand that each different social media site has its own privacy and security settings, and knowing how to delete posts or only let friends see what you write might be different for each platform.
How to Clean Your Social Media Accounts
If you’ve already posted things that you regret, you can still take steps to clean up your accounts before you apply to college. While the best practice is to avoid posting anything inappropriate in the first place, it’s never too late to clean it up. You should note that if you are currently involved in litigation about your posts on social media or that you might be in the future, you may not be allowed by law to erase the posts. If this applies to you, you will want to speak with an attorney about what you can do.
For most students, though, cleaning up your social media accounts is allowed. You should begin by reviewing your posts and deleting anything that you do not think represents you well. Don’t stop with your status updates. You should also take the time to look through your pictures and delete anything that presents you in an unfavorable light. Review the pages that you have liked. If you’ve had your accounts since middle school, you probably have liked many pages and posts that may now embarrass you. Make certain that your likes are confined to relevant and more recent pages and websites, including the schools you’ll apply to! You should go as far as rethinking your handle on Twitter. If it is an inappropriate name, change it to something that is more professional so that you can present yourself in a better way.
As a prospective college student, you should imagine the dean of admissions at your dream school reading every word that you post. Exercising self-control and restraint in your social media posts can help you. College admissions officers want to weed out students who may have a negative impact on their campuses; they want to see that applicants show a level of social maturity and responsibility. If your online presence demonstrates that you do not have self-control, your application may end up going into the deny pile. To learn more about social media and its relationship to the college admissions process, contact Going Ivy today.