Managing Your Social Media During The College Admissions Process

You’ve secured great reference letters, nailed the SAT, and have amazing extracurricular experience. Traditionally, you’d get admitted to your dream college. But what does your social media presence look like?

Across the country, schools like Harvard and the University of Richmond are looking at prospective students’ social media accounts and may withdraw official offers if they find troubling content. In 2017, 11% of admissions officers said they rejected applicants based on their social media accounts, and a further 7% stated that they rescinded offers when troubling content came to light. Clearly, your social media presence is something you need to take seriously as it can make a difference during the admissions process.

Here are a few ways you can better manage your social media accounts during the college admissions process.

Remove Red Flags

You must ensure that no illegal or illicit content is connected to your public social media profile. College admissions officers who find evidence of underage drinking or other illegal behavior are unlikely to give you the benefit of the doubt. It’s worth checking any party pictures you’ve been tagged in and ensuring there are no signs of illegal behavior, even if you’re not the one doing it.

You also need to be aware of offensive language on your social media pages. That doesn’t mean you need to completely censor your opinions, but you should be wary of content that might offend. To determine whether a post’s content is offensive, ask yourself whether or not you’d share it with the admissions officer in real-life. If you’d be uncomfortable sharing the content in real life, you should delete it from your social media account. 

Admissions officers don’t have time to check every post and picture on your social media pages, but if a post stands out, they will likely see it. That means you might need to delete jokes or pictures that you think are “edgy”, even if they are innocent but the gravity of proper etiquette is vital. It’s easy to be misunderstood online and isn’t worth the risk.

Edit Your Existing Content

You don’t have to delete everything on your social media profiles. In fact, deleting all your content makes it harder to build a positive online presence—something which is increasingly important. Instead, think of yourself as an editor while you clean up your social media accounts. Your social media pages should represent you positively, so choose a version of yourself to show the world:

  • Foreground volunteer work that aligns with your values
  • Keep creative photos that display your digital skills
  • Post links to publications you’ve received or competitions you’ve entered
  • Consider creating a website for yourself and post links to the site in your bios

By cleaning up your social media presence, you present a version of yourself that can land you opportunities like internships and jobs. Through sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, you’ll begin to build a brand that represents you as a student and a professional. That means it’s vital that you learn how to edit your online presence and start leveraging your social media profiles to network beyond your normal reach.

Many hands with smiling faces drawn on inside finger tips to represent your social network online.

Social Networking

Social media is a great networking tool. Over 500 million people are using LinkedIn, and Twitter allows users to stay up to date by following industry experts. You probably already know how to utilize the mechanics of social media platforms, but here are a few tips to ensure you are effectively networking via your social media accounts during the admissions process:

  • Fit the Platform Tone: your LinkedIn posts should not have the same tone as your Twitter posts. Successful LinkedIn networkers put forward a professional tone and post content that is clearly linked to their profession/education.  
  • Give and Take: DeVry University Senior Career Advisor, Tamara Small, suggests “Build rapport before asking for something. It's a two-way street – what can you provide your network?” By positively engaging with others, you will create a synergistic network that will support you in return.
  • Create Engagement: your social media pages will gain more traffic if you are routinely posting content that creates engagement. Increased traffic means your network will expand, and you will find more interest from internship coordinators and on-campus event organizers.
  • Link Your Site: if you have a website, connect each of your social media pages to it by providing links in your bios and relevant posts. Doing so can highlight your past achievements, and will bring you valuable development opportunities.

Creating a successful social media network is all about standing out from the crowd. During the admissions process, you should consider what kind of experience you want to gain while in college. For example, if you are pursuing a degree in graphic design, you should follow other designers online, and attempt to grow your portfolio through internships and volunteer work.

A Quick Recap

A well-managed social media account does more than help you pass admissions. Your accounts should help you gain career-focused college experiences and set you up for life beyond university. By ensuring your content is engaging and free from red flags, you can better your chances of landing exciting opportunities and will create a network that supports you in the future.

Bryce Hall