Myth: College Admissions Officers Won’t Really Look at my Social Media Pages

Do college admissions look at your social media pages

Flickr user Yoel Ben-Avraham

Admissions officers have to review hundreds (if not thousands) of applications, read essays, and even conduct interviews—they don’t have time to browse the internet and look at your social media pages, like your Facebook page or Twitter feed, right?

Don’t bet on it. Really, don’t. Kaplan Test Prep performed a survey study in 2015 and released the results earlier this year. They reported that 40% of admissions counselors regularly check their applicants’ social media pages. If that stat gave you a bit of a scare, you might want to rethink your Instagram strategy moving forward.

Back in 2008, Kaplan found, only a fraction of admissions officers bothered with the social media accounts of their applicants. In 2016, that number is 4 times higher! It’s more important than ever to maintain social media platforms and keep them college-worthy.

89% of those who took a gander at someone’s social media page said they did so to get to know the student better. What better way to discover the interests of a student than by perusing their Facebook page, where they might engage in topical conversations. Or by browsing their Instagram, where they might post photos of their art hobby. Of course, some of the admissions officers used the internet to do some sleuthing as well, like verifying a student’s claim of being in a certain club or winning a certain accolade.

One third of the surveyed 40% said they found less-than-impressive things on their applicants’ pages—and it that hurt their acceptance odds! Controversial, offensive, and irresponsible pictures, posts, comments, and other forms of media can be detrimental to a student’s chances of being accepted. Here are some things to keep in mind before you post:

Would I show this to my grandmother? 

A common phrase, one that can be easily changed: Would you show this to your parents? Your teacher? Your admissions counselor? If the answer is no, you might want to think twice about posting.

How does this make me look to an outsider?

Your friends might know you’re joking or being ironic when you flip the bird to the camera and post it online, but a person who doesn’t know you might get the impression you’re just rude and crass. That’s not really what you want to portray, especially to a person who ultimately decides your acceptance or rejection. The phrase might be “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but in this case, just make sure you have an impressive and appropriate cover.

What does this say about me?

Every post is a reflection of yourself, so what do they say about you? Excessively angry posts with lots of expletives might not earn you kudos with admissions officers. Nor will too many pity-party posts with sad song lyrics. Of course, social media is a place to express yourself, just keep in mind that it should be a balance that reflects the whole you, not just certain parts.

All in all, just be smart about your posting. If you have certain pictures or comments you’d rather have unseen, go back and delete them. Clean up your profile. If a social media platform has your name attached to it, keep it clean and impressive.

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