Avenues To Higher Education

How College Applicants Can Improve Their Use of Social Media

By Gwen Part on May 25, 2017

Male Student on Tablet and Female Student on MacBook

Families spend considerable amounts of time and resources creating opportunities to develop their student into the strongest, most prepared candidate for college application. Students thoughtfully craft strong resumes of interesting extracurricular activities and leadership roles. They study for ACT and SAT exams online, in school groups or with private tutors. Students work on writing skills and draft and re-write essays to reveal their authentic selves. They tour colleges and select best-fit schools within their acceptance range. So why – since most students are naturally “gifted” in terms of their facility with social media – is it that students do not optimize the use of social media to increase their chances of college acceptance?

In truth, a student’s social media presence is actually more likely to decrease their chances of college acceptance than increase their chances. In fact, in an article entitled 10 Social Media Tips for Students to Improve Their College Admission Chances published on Entrepreneur.com, author Matt Sweetwood reports these results from a Kaplan survey:

“35 percent of college recruiters said that, when checking up on a student’s online presence, they found something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting in.”

Sweetwood also quotes survey results noting that over two-thirds of colleges and universities admitted to Googling applicants and researching them on social media when reviewing their applications for admission.

However, there are students who understand that there can be a benefit to social media profiles that have been well-curated. Many are using various social media platforms and encouraging college application reviewers to review their online sites/profiles. Some create short storytelling videos on the app ZeeMee. Some universities – Tufts University was one of the first to do this – provide students with an option of a written or video essay. Here are some examples of  YouTube videos that were created specifically for admission.

The article above provides tips for students to improve their college admission chances through use of social media. Below are some questions I always ask and topics I discuss with my student clients.

Looking at Your Social Media Presence

  • What are your social media and email address handles? Are they “appropriate?”
  • Are your profiles easily searchable? Is your content public or private? If your name is unique, your profiles may be easier to find.
  • Have you considered the pros and cons to both public and private profiles?
  • Are you comfortable with any non-peer, and in particular, with a college admissions reviewer, seeing any content that is posted on your Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (or other media) pages?
  • Have you created a professional profile on LinkedIn?
  • How is the material that you are posting or allowing others to post to your pages contributing to your overall image?
  • Who do you follow? Not just friends, but which schools, interests, organizations, etc.?
  • Do your social media interests reflect your college application and resume?

College admissions officers use social media, so it is important that our students are reviewing theirs. Social media is at the fingertips of our students several hours a day. The sooner they know they implement these tips, the more quickly they can begin to cultivate their profiles.