As a college counselor serving students of all academic levels and interests, my experience as College Admissions staff member allows me to share the inside look at how to increase your chances of success as a student and during the college application process. One of the most important ADMISSIONS TIPS I share–: Social Media: Yes They’re Watching You!
Well there’s no accounting for taste, but there most certainly is a need to have a taste for a good online filter. Whether you’re applying to an undergraduate or graduate program or changing careers, job hunting or the like, the culturally accepted practice of keeping one’s personal and professional life separate has never been more important than in our digital age where information about you is essentially seamless and readily available. Whether you live in Boca Raton, Florida, Westchester County, Chicago or Los Angeles– your online presence is part of a space that is a public one and a permanent one!
In a recent SURVEY of college admissions officers, 70% indicated that checking a college applicant’s social media was acceptable. There were striking differences among public and private universities where 47% indicated that online applicant profiles are viewed! An astounding 42% said what they found had a negative impact! (Hard to believe-click the survey link at the start of the paragraph for full details.)
As you explore universities, post-graduate opportunities including fellowships, potential employers, and assorted organizations, you’ll be faced with the choice to connect through social media. First, let’s talk about Facebook “Fan” pages. Many organizations – including potential employers as well as colleges and universities will invite you to “like” their page. There is essentially nothing to be gained by becoming a “Fan”, and you invite yourself to public scrutiny from college admissions and scholarship representatives and organizational hiring recruiters. (Not to mention we really don’t know where that data goes !!) Unless you have your Facebook privacy settings locked down, once you hit the “fan” page, you’ve established a connection that allows others to see your posts and to view pictures you may unknowingly be tagged in which without explanation can cast a dark shadow on your integrity. We all make mistakes, but you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Aside from doing your best to keep your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts positively spotless, think about settings that limit others from viewing information about your personal life.
GREAT READ: Toning Down the Tweets Just In Case Colleges Pry provides some solid guidelines.
Embrace the process of spring/summer cleaning and delete questionable and less-than-flattering posts, pictures and the like.
In contrast, consider using your social media accounts to actually build a portfolio of that showcases your interests and accomplishments including: ADMITSEE and ZEEME and even Linked-In. (Admitsee is also an option for those families unable to retain the services of a College Advisor – giving you access to student applicants for feedback on your portfolio/essays.)
Here are two additional resources offering some interesting insights on the trends in social media. For example, Carnegie Mellon has an optional question on the CommonApp allowing you to enter your ZeeMe profile!
This some advice for Parents: Another accepted life practice is not to burn your bridges behind you. Are you consistently missing out on interview invites? If you smell smoke, it’s probably a burning bridge and a recent feature on LinkedIn may be the reason your former colleagues have less than flattering comments or remain silent when asked to recommend you. You cannot control what others say about you, but you can make sure you don’t end job and employer relationships on a sour note. Recruiters are using a LinkedIn feature allowing them to make connections well beyond those you selected and noted on your resume as a recommendation. Check out this resource:
Students and Parents: Missed opportunities are just that and you may never know why you didn’t receive an acceptance letter to the college or job of your choice. What you do control is your own behavior and the safeguards for sharing of information.
Have a wonderful week!
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
561.509.0021 or 833.MY.ESSAY
College Advising & Educational Planning
South Florida (Boca Raton, Fl, Parkland, Wellington, Jupiter, Coral Springs) & Anywhere You Are!
Professor Emeritus & Cornell University Alumni Representative- 30+ Years Experience