7 Tips For Rising Seniors – #2 Clean Up Social Media

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
  • Curiosity

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:

  • Drinking
  • Smoking
  • Drugs
  • Sex
  • Bad mouthing something/someone
  • Cursing
  • Violence

“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.

 

7 Tips for Rising Seniors – #1 Build and Narrow Down Your College List

 

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7 Tips For Rising Seniors – #1 – College List

Congratulations! You have completed your junior year of high school. You are now a senior! You only have one year to go in high school and then you’ll be off to college. I’m sure you are very excited and want to relax and celebrate all summer. Relax and enjoy, but keep your eye on the prize – college.

In my seven part series, I will provide tips that rising seniors can do this summer to get ahead of the college admissions game. Many students will procrastinate when it comes to college admissions and won’t start the process until September when they are back in school. I admit it – I was one of those students back when I was applying to college. I can tell you from experience that senior year is going to be busy! Why not take some of the pressure away by chipping away at the college admissions process during the summer when you have some free time? College is a huge investment in time and money and you don’t want to leave your fate to your rushed process. Take your time in the college admissions process so you can be confident you’re making the right decisions.

Now for the first tip – Build And Narrow Your College List.

Have you started building your college list? Don’t worry if you have not. You’re not alone. Many rising seniors have not really built a college list yet. Sure, there are colleges on the list in their head that are local colleges, the college everyone wants to attend or the college that wins a lot of games. But, that’s not the way to choose a college. You need to really research.

The first thing to do when researching colleges is to get to know yourself and your preferences. What do you want or not want in a college? What do you need and don’t need in a college? Check out my previous post about building your college list for the questions you should ask yourself while building your college list.

After you get to know yourself, build your BIG list of colleges. The BIG list will meet all of your criteria – size, location, majors, etc. You can start researching for this big list by using one of the following college search tools:

You will enter your preferences for college into one of the search engines and it will give you a list of colleges to consider. Most likely, especially if you’re not very specific about location, the search engines will give you a large list of colleges to consider. That’s okay. It’s now time for you to further investigate the colleges.

Share the list with your counselor, teachers, parents and others that you trust, especially if they are knowable about college. Ask for their thoughts and feedback. You should also ask them if there is a college that is not on the list, but should.

Visit the college websites to get further information. Visit not only the main pages of the website, but also Admissions, Majors and Student Activities. Another important place to visit is the Financial Aid page and the Net Price Calculator. The Net Price Calculator will allow you to enter your personal information (grades, test scores, income, etc.) and it will tell you the approximate financial aid you will receive if you attend that particular college. Make sure to share the financial information with your parents and get their thoughts on what the family is willing and able to pay to help you attend college.

Keep notes throughout your research about everything you find. Also, as you start having questions that the websites cannot answer, reach out to the colleges and ask. The Admissions Offices are great places to start because Admission Counselors are trained in most things about their college.

Lastly, as the list gets smaller and smaller, try to visit the colleges that are still on the list, if you haven’t already. College websites are marketing tools that are meant to make you want to attend that particular school. The only way to really know if the college is for you is to visit.

Building your list and narrowing it down is not something that will happen overnight. There is a reason I made it the first tip – it’s going to take some time to narrow it down to the colleges you will ultimately send an application. Your final list will have approximately seven to ten colleges. So, don’t rush building and narrowing down your list, but don’t wait to start until the fall.

Join me next time when I share information about social media and college admissions.

 

 

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Scholarship Saturday – June 7, 2014

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.

Test Prep Tips Frequently Overlooked

When students and their parents think about preparing for the SAT or ACT, most people think about:

  • Enrolling in test prep courses
  • Taking practice tests
  • Memorizing “SAT” words

However, the thing that many people forget about is what needs to happen the night before the test and the morning of the test. I know that some of you might be thinking these tips are cliché, but they really are important and will help you to do your best on the test.

  1. Go to bed early.
    • Think about it. When you’re tired, it’s harder to concentrate, right? Try to go to sleep as early as is needed for you to wake up in the morning feeling well rested. Be honest with yourself and know what your mind and body needs and get that extra sleep.
  2. Sleep where you’re most comfortable.
    • You’ll probably be doing some last minute studying for the test the night before. It’s natural to want to get one last study session in. However, don’t go overboard and fall asleep where you’re studying. You won’t sleep well with your head down on your desk or the kitchen table. I also caution you sleeping anywhere that is not your own bed. You want to sleep well so that when you wake up in the morning, you’ll feel fully rested and ready for the test.
  3. Set your alarm.
    • This should go without saying, but set your alarm. If you use your phone as your alarm, I’d suggest setting a few different alarms in case you accidentally push the “dismiss” button instead of the “snooze” button. I also suggest that you set another alarm on a real clock, just in case. You don’t want to wake up late and rush getting ready, or even worse, sleep through the start of the test.
  4. Eat a good breakfast.
    • They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that is especially true when you are taking the SAT or ACT. Eating a good meal helps you to feel good and will help your cognitive skills. Eat a healthy breakfast and skip the sugary foods and drinks.
    • Plus, you don’t want to be “that” student whose stomach growls very loud during the test when it’s very quiet.
  5. Bring everything that is required and optional for the test.
    • You don’t want to show up to the test well rested and ready to take the test and then realize you forgot something that is required! The night before the test make sure you set aside all of the required and suggested items.

The SAT and ACT are important tests for college admissions, but remember that stressing or worrying will not help you to do better. Take care of yourself the night before and the morning of the test and you’ll do great. Good luck!

Magoosh SAT

Summer Scholarship Search

It’s summer! For the next three months, you have your freedom from school. You don’t have class deadlines to read books, write essays or study for tests. With this new found freedom, many students just want to go out and have fun. Going out and having fun is a great thing to do during the summer because you deserve it. However, in some of that free time, you should take the opportunity to start or continue your scholarship search.

There are millions of dollars of scholarships available – why shouldn’t some of it become yours to use for college? There are scholarships available for almost everything! You don’t have to have perfect grades. You don’t have to have a talent. Did you know there are scholarships out there for people that are left-handed, a twin or have red hair? There are scholarships like this and many others that are described as unusual.

Where Do You Start?
There are many great scholarship websites that you can use for free:

Create free accounts at one or all of the above websites and start the scholarship search. The websites will allow you to provide information about yourself and as new scholarships become available, they’ll email you the details.

Get Organized

  1. Organize scholarships in order of due date and set reminders to make sure you’ve submitted them on time.
  2. Prepare a Resume/Brag Sheet
    • Include information about your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, jobs, internships, volunteer activities, talents and anything else that might set you apart from other applicants.
    • This resume/brag sheet is great to give individuals that will write recommendation letters for you.
  3. Determine individuals that can write recommendation letters for you
    • Always ask people that know you more than just your name.
    • Always give them sufficient notice before you need the letter.
    • Give the letter writer your resume/brag sheet. It will help them to write a great recommendation.
    • See if you can get general recommendation letters from writers. This is helpful for scholarships with summer deadlines, or scholarships that you only find out about it a few days before it’s due.
    • Give the letter writer a copy of the scholarships information, even for scholarships you send in the general letter.
    • Always thank them for their help!
  4. Gather required documents. Many scholarships require more than just an application and essay.
    • Request multiple official transcripts. The transcripts be ready to include in scholarship mailings.
    • Copy of SAT or ACT Scores.
    • Recommendation Letters

There are many scholarships available. Keep your eye out for them, prepare and apply. College is expensive and any amount will help!

Dedicate a little time each day to your scholarship search. Just a little bit of time can turn in to a lot of money that can help towards the cost of your college education.

Good luck with your scholarship search. And, don’t forget to follow my blog. Every Saturday I share a list of scholarships with upcoming deadlines.

 

Photo Credit: "Learning and socializing on the beach" by Ingo Bernhardt using cc by 2.0 - text added to original