Do Colleges Check Your Social Media?

Are colleges truly interested in your social media presence? According to a 2020 Kaplan survey, 65% of admissions officers consider that viewing a prospective student’s social media pages is fair game.

Public profiles can reveal a lot about a student, and while you can’t be certain whether colleges will check your social media, it is best to stay on the safe side. Here are some tips for managing your social media profiles during the college admissions process, ensuring they present you in the best light possible.

What Percent of Colleges Look at Social Media Profiles?

A 2020 survey showed that 36% of Admissions Officers look at applicants social media.

In the previously mentioned 2020 Kaplan study, it was found that while a strong majority of colleges are open to the idea of investigating social media profiles, about a third – 36% – say they actually do. This is an increase from 25% reported in 2018. That means it’s important for students to consider carefully what they post online.

What students post on social media can greatly affect acceptance odds, and can even get acceptances revoked if unsuitable or offensive material is found. A now-infamous example is when 10 students who were accepted to Harvard were later denied admission once their wildly inappropriate Facebook group was discovered. This is only one instance of why it’s so important to be careful about what you post on social media while applying to colleges.

What Do Colleges Look for on Social Media?

Your college application is a chance to tell a story about yourself, focusing on what you want them to know. But some admissions officers want to see you beyond your application. They might check your social media profiles to get a better sense of who you are. This isn’t just to find red flags; they may want to learn more about your interests and activities.

They might be interested in understanding your abilities and interests, both academically and personally. What are the things you really care about? How do you spend your time? Are you deeply committed to a particular interest or still exploring different areas? What about your commitment to your community? Are you a part of any hate groups or sharing content from one?

Knowing that admissions officers may look at your social media profiles, it’s smart to keep them clean and use them to highlight your talents and interests that relate to your chosen program. Showcasing these parts of yourself can improve your application and give a better sense of who you are beyond academics.

Facebook, Instagram and X (Formerly Twitter): Balance Freedom and Responsibility

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and X (previously known as Twitter) give us a virtual space to express ourselves freely. But just because Facebook asks, ‘What’s on your mind?’ or X prompts, ‘What’s happening?’ doesn’t mean we need to share every thought each time we log in. We’ve all felt tempted to vent about a tough day or unfair teacher. Or, we feel that we have to post that hilarious photograph from that last party.

While occasional venting is normal, it’s important to remember the potential impact of our posts. Students have lost athletic and academic scholarships because of controversial content they’ve shared online. Navigating social media requires balancing the freedom to express ourselves with the responsibility of considering the consequences. Be mindful of what you post—your future and college finances are too important to throw away.

YouTube and TikTok: Post Videos Showcasing Your Skills and Talents

YouTube and TikTok are great platforms to feature and showcase many talents and abilities. It’s a creative outlet for those who love making and posting videos of all types, from step-by-step tutorials to showcasing their love for film, art, dance, or debate. Some students even incorporate YouTube videos into their college entrance interviews. Before submitting any content, ensure your channel or TikTok profile reflects you positively, as it could impact your chances of admission to your desired school.

What Should You Remove from Your Social Media?

Delete any messages, images, or videos under your name that contain hateful speech, showcase illegal activities, or show insensitive or offensive content. It’s best to refrain from posting this type of material in the first place. Remember, once something is on the internet, it tends to stay there.

However, if you’ve posted some questionable images or content in the past, take time to go through and delete it. This includes any images that showcase you in a negative light, even if your actions weren’t illegal, or messages that could be misinterpreted. Keep in mind that being accepted to college doesn’t mean you are free to start posting whatever content you want. Colleges have and will revoke acceptance offers in these cases.

When reviewing your social media, you should check:

  • Your posts
  • Your replies and comments to others
  • Images, including profile picture, uploaded photos, and banners
  • Profile information
  • For older social media accounts you made when you were younger
  • The accounts, lists, or pages you follow

Remember, your online presence is an extension of yourself. Strive for a simple, clean, and professional profile across all platforms. Always think twice before posting anything online. If you wouldn’t say it face-to-face or do it in public, it’s likely not suitable for sharing or bragging about on social media either.

By maintaining a thoughtful and responsible approach to social media, you can protect your reputation and make a positive impression on college admissions officers and future career opportunities.

Still deciding on what school is right for you? Use College Raptor’s FREE College Match tool to explore personalized college matches, acceptance odds, and financial aid for schools around the U.S!

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