How Social Media Aliases Make College Applicants Look Stupid

With college application season in full swing, the members of the high school graduating class of 2015 are predictably and dutifully adopting social media aliases. This practice has seemingly become a right of passage in the digital age. Unfortunately, these students fail to realize how easy it is for colleges to find them and then to draw conclusions based on this deception. Also, and perhaps even sadder, is that most parents and high school guidance counselors seem to endorse and condone this practice. 

This widespread use of adopted aliases shows the fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding social media and college admissions. Prevailing teen logic must go something like this: I am not proud of my social media and I want to go to college. I certainly do not want colleges to see this side of me so, if I hide, colleges won't find me and I will get accepted. 

Here are the top four problems associated with students using aliases to try to hide from view. First, colleges will still find them. Second, aliases make these students look stupid and the attempted deception projects a lack of integrity. Third, using an alias will almost certainly guarantee rejection. Fourth, when colleges use social media to proactively recruit students, these students will be summarily passed over and dismissed.

Aliases communicate many negative attributes about the students as well. Facebook requires all users to use their real names, so the use of an alias indicates a ready willingness to break the rules. Students who are too lazy or do not care enough to clean and optimize their social media will also lack the energy and interest to take full advantage of the resources colleges have to offer. Students using aliases are not smart enough to realize that they are not hiding from anyone so perhaps they are not smart enough for college. 

One caveat. There is a growing tendency among high school girls to use only their first and middle names on Facebook. We believe this is a rational security related concern used to protect their true identity from possible stalkers. We also believe that the use of their real first and middle names will not negatively impact their college applications (especially if they volunteer the links to their social media as part of the college application).

Becoming totally transparent on social media is liberating. Current and future college applicants should be embracing social media as a vehicle to set themselves apart from the other qualified candidates who are vying for acceptance into their dream school. Social media should be viewed as a virtual resume for the world to see. The ultimate goal is to be found when a college taps into social media to learn more about you and to understand your unique set of skills, talents and personal qualities. Always be authentic.

Our advice to students of all ages: It’s time to let your social media work for you rather than against you. Be transparent, credible and genuine...and please drop the aliases.