Published on Valley News
September 20, 2013
RIVERSIDE COUNTY – Twenty-seven percent of college admissions officers have Googled prospective students and 26 percent checked applicants’ Facebook profiles, reveals a Kaplan survey.
Of the officers that did review an applicant’s social media profile when considering candidacy, over one-third discovered something that negatively affected their view of the candidate. While this study may seem to confirm some students’ worst nightmares, there are steps you can take as a high school junior or senior to frame your social presence in the best light possible.
Where colleges look
Colleges prefer Facebook, a study in The Journal of College Admission revealed. Of the top 100 colleges (as ranked by U.S. News and World Report), 92 were active on Facebook, 88 on Twitter and 79 on YouTube. Flickr also figured high on the list.
Colleges may be hoping to find more personal information about you that will give them insight into who you are through Facebook posts and Twitter streams. If you post racist Twitter remarks, colleges may feel that you would continue to do that while enrolled at their school and cast them in a bad light.
Keep all accounts clean
Knowing where colleges hang out online will help groom your profile. If you maintain an Instagram account, an admissions officer may find it when peeking around your Facebook page, and she may not appreciate those half-nude selfies. Focus on grooming those accounts that your desired colleges Advertisement
[ Sullivan Solar Power ]maintain, but know officers may stumble upon other accounts.
The tables can turn the other way. You can review schools’ social media presence as a window into their character. Stumbling upon the Penn Foster Pinterest page, for example, reveals more than college buildings. Pictures of dorm room decor, study abroad programs and exciting majors may inspire a greater connection to the school.
Reframe your social status
As college application time approaches, review your social presence. Those who value privacy may want to tweak privacy settings so only friends can see your posts. This way, admissions officers can only see general information, like name and hometown.
Some students prefer to leave their settings alone and change their names, assuming privacy through a fake last name. This can be risky, though. Admissions officers may find you by searching your email, and be able to view any bad behavior you are trying to hide.
Instead of trying to camouflage yourself, use your accounts to post accomplishments that make you proud. If you’re an artist, use Instagram or Facebook to post images of your art. If you write for the school paper, link to your work via Twitter.
As you post, think about how college admissions officers would perceive your posts, and edit any that mar your image. While your social media may not ultimately get you into a top-choice school, it can ensure officers see your best side.