Generally, admissions officers are hoping to find a more holistic version of some students through online searches and social media accounts - looking for additional, positive information about applicants. However, it’s possible to turn off an admissions officer with remarks, posts, and images that violate (or do not align with) the expectation of how students are in a school's student community. Here are some tips and cautionary words about social media for those applying to college/university.
Keep these tips in mind for before, during and after college acceptances. Poor form after the fact can mean that a college rescinds their offer of admissions (this includes poor grades as well, don’t let senioritis get to you!):
Things not to do...
- General rule of thumb, if you don’t want your parents/grandparents to read something, don’t post it to social media at all
- Avoid any and all comments posted that can be seen as offensive such as discrimination against race, groups, etc. - this includes comments meant to be funny or sarcastic; when in doubt, just don’t post it, you never know how something could be taken by someone else
- Generally, posts that violate a schools code of conduct will negatively impact an application if seen or share with an admissions officer (here’s info from Yale’s code of conduct equivalent: http://catalog.yale.edu/undergraduate-regulations/policies/)
- Be careful of posts that might even be semi-protected such as those on Facebook or a public Instagram story that's meant to go away after 24 hours; comments and posts can be saved with a screen shot and passed along, this includes memes, posts, stories, snaps, other images, etc.
- Polish the public parts of your facebook page (e.g. about section, public images)
- Highlight your interests and accomplishments, there might be an opportunity to showcase information that you can’t expand upon in your actual application or a new hobby you're exploring
- Open a LinkedIn account: include work, research, and volunteer experiences; there is also a summary section to talk about aspirations and accomplishments
- Use Instagram to showcase unique experiences, hobbies, and new interests that may not be highlighted on the application
- If you write in a journal or are thinking about chronicling your life in a public space such as a blog, this might be a great place to showcase interests and extracurricular activities if put together earlier on in high school
Last thought: don’t get too wrapped up in tailoring your presence as the research statistics don’t necessarily merit a lot of effort on this front (for now!).