A growing trend in college admissions is that Admissions Officers are viewing the social media accounts of their applicants. According to a Kaplan Test Prep Survey, 31% of Admissions Officers have visited an applicant’s social media profile. As a former Admissions Counselor and Director, I can tell you that I visited quite a few social media accounts. As college admissions become more competitive, it’s likely the number of admissions officers viewing social media profiles will continue to increase.
Why would Admissions Officers view Social Media accounts? Here are just a few reasons:
- Social media accounts can distinguish applicants, especially at competitive colleges
- Identify and recruit talented students
- Alerted by someone about inappropriate behavior on social media
- College has strict community living standards (no drinking, smoking, etc) and view social media to ensure students do not partake in these behaviors
- Colleges want students that fit the college image in regards to how they carry themselves publicly
While the chance an Admissions Counselor will see your social media presence is slim, there is a chance. Plus, colleges are not the only ones that review social media before making decisions. Scholarship committees and hiring committees are also using social media during their selection processes. One of my favorite articles about the subject was published in The New York Times in 2013, titled “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets.” Check it out if you’re curious what college admissions officers are saying about social media.
As you start to review your social media accounts, ask yourself, “Do I want _______________ seeing this?” Frequently it is called the “Grandma test,” but maybe there is someone else you want to use as your moral compass. It could be your mom, dad, pastor, future employer, etc. Whoever it is, keep asking yourself that question as you review your profiles and posts. If there is something that doesn’t pass the test, delete the post. This also goes for photos that you have posted, as well as tagged photos.
In addition to reviewing your social media profiles you use regularly, Google yourself and see what comes up. Is there a social media profile you forgot you even had? Did someone tag you in a photo you did not even know was online? It’s always good to Google yourself on a regular basis to see what you find. If you have a common name, search your name along with things like your city, high school, activity, etc.
To be safe, avoid the following topics/photos on social media:
- Bad mouthing something/someone
“I’ll just delete my social media accounts.”
If you’re thinking about changing your name and/or email address on all of your social media accounts, that’s probably not the best thing to do. If colleges are choosing to look for their applicants on social media, not having a presence will make them ask the question, “What are they trying to hide?” Although not all students are on social media in some way or another, I think we can agree that most students are.
Let Social Media Work In Your Favor
Many of the articles you find about social media and college admissions will talk about how it can hurt your chances. But, did you know social media interactions can help in the process?
Follow the colleges on social media and…
- Like a story or photo they posted? Share, re-tweet or re-pin it. There’s a chance they might notice.
- Did you visit campus or have a good conversation with someone associated with the college? Post about it and don’t forget to tag the college. They are very likely to notice this.
- Ask thoughtful questions on the social media site. The college will notice you because most colleges will respond to questions on social media sites.
Here are just some examples the above worked in favor of students when I was an Admissions Director:
- The Admissions Committee was on the fence about admitting a student, but because of the student’s positive interaction with the college on social media, we took a chance on the student.
- When it came to financial aid time, after the student was admitted, the student let us know that there was not enough financial aid offered. Because of the long term, positive relationship I had with the student on social media, I advocated for the student to get more financial aid.
- An applicant was an amazing ambassador for the college on social media. After his visits to the college, he always posted pictures and talked about the great experience he had. When it was time to start hiring students to work in the Admissions Office, I contacted him directly to invite him to apply. I knew if he posted positively about the college on his own, he would do an amazing job as a campus tour guide once he was a student on campus.
The above examples are from my own experience working in Admissions, but I know there are many other examples like this at other colleges.
Take the time to clean up your social media accounts and start letting social media work in your favor!
Join me next time when I share information about connecting with colleges.