Are you the selfie master? Do you live tweet any time you watch an episode of your favorite TV show? Have you argued with someone in a 100+ comment thread about a political candidate? These activities, and others like them that are conducted primarily on social media, could pose potential threats to your college dreams. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Kaplan found that “40% of college admissions officers browse social media profiles to learn more about admissions candidates.” This finding raises the question: what role does your social media presence play when you apply to colleges?
Social media can be a gray area for college applications. You obviously are not submitting your Facebook profile along with other materials, but the ease of the Internet makes it irresistible for admission officers to check out your profile if it can lend extra insight into your character. Remember, admission officers have little of your personality to work with when reviewing your application, other than your essays, so social media understandably fills a void. If you have pictures of questionable activities or don’t really present yourself in a professional--or at least neutral--manner, then social media could negatively affect your chances of admission.
Does this mean that one expletive-laden rant on your personal blog is going to sink your chances of getting into Harvard? No, not necessarily, but you don’t want anything to color your application the wrong way. It is important, once again, to remind you that people--people!--make the decisions on who gets accepted. So any data they collect about you could sway them in ways they don’t even realize it. It just isn’t worth the risk.
Really, you just need to do a little bit of social media housekeeping to ensure nobody gets the wrong impression about you. Here’s what you can do, all fairly easy and straightforward:
1) Eliminate any questionable images and present yourself in a professional way.
2) Avoid getting into lengthy public discussions about contentious issues.
3) Remove/Hide content that lacks sophistication; use complete sentences and correct grammar.
4) Don’t post your every thought and emotion for all to see; use a private blog to express your feelings.
5) Remember that unless you severely restrict access to your profiles, your social media presence is a public one.
6) Think: Would you say what you posted in person, in front of a large crowd?
7) If you are really worried, go into social media hibernation during application season.
College, as always, is an important time of transition for young people, and one key way that students transition from teenagers to young adults is how they present themselves to the public. Colleges want students who exude professionalism and maturity because they see these students as confident and expect them to do great things.
At B2A, we know the importance of presenting yourself in the best possible way, both online and offline, and we have many services to guide students through social media, resume building, essay drafting, and just about any other aspect of college admissions. Let us help you present yourself in a way that makes colleges eager to say YES! to your application.