How to Use Social Media in Your College Search

Use social media to help your college search

Flickr user Jason Howie

It’s college application season. You’re bogged down by college entrance tests, essays, interviews, application forms—on top of your regular high school coursework. With all of these responsibilities, you might let other aspects of the college search fall through the cracks—like effectively using social media.

Use social media to keep track of deadlines, learn about your schools of interest and make yourself an attractive prospective student. Consider these tips for perfecting your social media strategy:

Audit your profiles

You’ve heard it a dozen times in high school, but this advice is evergreen: maintain a clean social media presence. Avoid making posts that will raise red flags for admissions counselors and with potential employers. Delete or untag yourself from past posts that portray you in an undesirable light. This doesn’t mean you have to delete pictures from your high school friend group’s Twister game using paint for the colors, but remove any evidence of unflattering activities (such as questionable song lyrics or complaints about a former boss).

Consider revising the privacy settings on your accounts as well. If an admissions counselor cannot see much of your profile or friends list, they are less likely to be deterred by what they find.

Maintain your brand on social media

Do you volunteer at a soup kitchen? Play baseball? Work as a stage hand? Advocate for a particular social issue?

Have you mentioned any of these activities in your application materials?

Consider whether what an admissions counselor will see on your social media profiles will align with what they’ve read in your application. If you’re comfortable publicly sharing your activities, your social media profiles can act as a resume that documents your involvement with photo, video, and testimonial in real time.

Share your profiles

When you fill out an application, include links to your now-polished profiles. That way, you’ll know where admissions counselors are looking and can display your best content. Plus, you won’t have to worry about them mistaking the profile of another “Sandra Armstrong” for yours.

Follow, follow, follow

For every school you’re interested in, follow each of its social media platforms. If you’re taking standardized tests, like the ACT or SAT, follow their official accounts. You’ll stay up-to-date on timelines, due dates and school events, and schools will notice your active interest. However, make sure to do so organically—you won’t benefit from creating dummy accounts on platforms you never use. Rather, stick with the social media accounts you connect with most regularly. You’ll find the most options on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Engage interactive media

Now that you’re following your favorite schools and people important to your programs, engage with them! When a post invites replies, contribute to the conversation. Add thoughtful comments and questions under posts that intrigue you. Speak especially to subjects about which you have particular knowledge or interest. The more often the college representatives see your name—and the more impressive you sound when they see it—the more they will remember you.


Most schools and programs have a few hashtags they use regularly in conversations on social media. They may follow these hashtags in order to see what other users and saying and asking. Find each school’s hashtags in order to engage the conversation, ask questions and garner attention—as well as to find other people at or considering the school.

Social media is a wonderful tool, but it can be daunting without the right mindset. Get an edge in your college search by maintaining a clean, professional profile that clearly demonstrates interest in your prospective programs.

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