Believe it or not, colleges are looking at more than just your application. Most people, especially those born as Gen Z, have some sort of social media presence such as Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. Social media is a powerful tool to keep in touch with friends and family, drive social change, provide a form of entertainment, as well as a space where you can express your thoughts and feelings. But anything you post online, whether public or even private, could have an effect on you and your college acceptance chances.
In recent years, acceptance rates for colleges have become harder, and students with good grades have been rejected due to having inappropriate social media posts. But why are colleges even bothering to look into your social media? Well, visiting sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provides a more holistic view of the student. A college application will always aim to show the best version of a student, highlighting their volunteer work, honor roll, extracurricular activities, or the sports they play. But, social media is where the truth really lies.
What are they looking for?
College admissions offices are becoming more thorough with incoming applications. With thousands of applicants a year, accepting the right candidate goes way beyond grades. Why? Because a student should represent the ideals of that college, and no college is willing to risk their reputation by accepting the wrong type of person. This is particularly pertinent if you are being considered for academic scholarships, financial aid, or an athletic scholarship.
Sharing updates such as achievements you’re proud of on your social media accounts is a great way to boost your personal brand in a positive way, but all of that can be washed away in a second if you’re also sharing photos/videos of your underage drinking or conducting illegal activities. That type of content will definitely raise some red flags on your application. Take a look at your social media profiles right now, are they representing you in a light that makes you proud? Or are they just an uncensored photo dump of everything you and your friends have done over the years?
Colleges are looking at everything beyond just the application. Although your SAT and ACT scores, grades, extracurriculars, and essays play a huge part, you wouldn’t want to trip at the finish line because of silly or careless posts published long ago that you had forgotten about.
What you should do
Before you apply to your dream school, it’s time to think about what your online presence tells viewers about you. Does it say ‘high school delinquent’ or does it say ‘honor roll student’? Since we can’t know for certain whether all or some colleges will take into account your social media presence, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We’ve put together a list of actions you can take to help clean up your social media accounts before hitting ‘submit’ on that application:
- Delete any inappropriate posts or comments that you have on your profile. This could include, illegal activity, underage drinking, or racial comments. To do this, you can either go through all your posts manually one by one, or take the easy way out and use the LifeBrand social media scanner, and be done in a couple of minutes.
- Your username/handle is a key identifier. Choose something that reflects you accurately and professionally.
- Update your profile picture. Everyone’s heard that a picture is worth 1000 words, so let your profile picture say something awesome about you. This photo is the first impression you will leave on the admissions officer, so make it a good one.
- Set your accounts to private. If you don’t want to completely be private, you should at least update your privacy settings. All social media websites have privacy settings that you probably overlooked when you signed up, but it’s always good to look back and see who actually can see your content.
- Showcase your achievements. Have you been volunteering at a food bank for the past couple of years? Or are you the captain of your school’s soccer team? These are the types of things you should be sharing on your social media. For example, you should post a picture of one of your games, or a trophy you’ve earned, or even your excitement for an upcoming event.
Cleaning up your social media might take some time, but in the long run, this could be the deciding factor of whether or not you’re going to get into the college of your dreams.
Are colleges really invading your privacy?
OK, you might be feeling that having colleges snoop your social media is an invasion of your privacy — but ask yourself, is it really? Social media platforms are publicly accessible, and you’ve chosen to have an account, or multiple accounts, on them to share your content. Anything you post on the internet can live on forever, just remember that — regardless of whether you have a public or private account. Colleges are simply researching your online presence to learn more about who you are, and what your personal brand is.
So why not leave a good lasting impression? It’s time to clear out those ‘iffy’ posts and make your profiles reflect the best version of yourself. LifeBrand is here to help you identify any potentially harmful posts that could hinder your college application. So give our free scan a try today! None of your data is collected or stored, you can do the scan free of charge and then choose whether to delete or keep any of the posts identified.