5 Reasons Why Social Media Prep Must Be Part of the College Planning Process

Social Assurity has written extensively on the topic of social media’s growing influence over college admissions decisions. Our core belief is that social media preparation should be a key part of the college planning process. High school sophomores and juniors should now be dedicating time to work on optimizing their social media profiles to create compelling content accurately reflecting their activities, interests and accomplishments. Here are 5 reasons why:  

Reason #1: Admissions Officers Are Looking at Applicant Social Media

Thanks to Kaplan Test Prep and its annual survey of college admissions officers, we know that 40% of admissions officers in the United States have looked at applicant social media during the 2015 admissions process. We have learned that admissions officers are more apt to look when applicants are seeking scholarships and especially when applicants proactively invite colleges to look at their social media.

Reason #2: Since They’re Looking, Give Them Something to See

College admissions officers have neither the time nor the interest to search social media simply to find reasons to reject qualified applicants. At best, temporarily shutting down a social media profile or using a fictitious name during the college application process will only raise suspicions when that applicant cannot be found. If and when colleges look, logic dictates they look because they want to learn more about the applicant, opening the door of opportunity for the prepared applicant to set themselves apart from other qualified applicants.

Reason #3: The Best Offense is a Good Defense

Almost all colleges now have a prominent social media presence and encourage applicants to interact with them on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Interacting with school officials, alumni and current students is a positive for applicants if, and only if, the applicants' social media is in proper order.  Remember that whenever an applicant sends a message to a college official using a social network's native messaging system, that applicant is also necessarily transmitting a digital dossier containing all profile information specific to that social network. This includes all past posts, photos, friends and followers. As a result, colleges are routinely receiving full access to applicant digital DNA by way of these social interactions. By having their social media optimized for inspection, applicants can freely and safely interact with colleges using social media and may very well impress the right people as a result.

Reason #4: Many Colleges Use Social Media to Proactively Recruit Students.

This is all so much more than simply creating a LinkedIn account. Many college recruiters are searching for talent on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as well. Therefore, this is also about learning how to leverage the capabilities of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to their full potential by going beyond the basic post and like functions. This is about how a thoughtful, transparent, content rich and balanced social media presence across networks can help college applicants stand out in a crowded field. The ultimate goal is to be found when a college taps into social media’s big data function by understanding your personal search metrics and the proper keywords needed to describe your unique set of skills, talents and qualities.

Reason #5: Proactively Managing Social Media is an Essential Life Skill

Social media is here to stay and will continue to influence character assessments made by colleges, scholarship committees, coaches, internship selection committees, employers, landlords and future significant others. It is time to learn how your social media can work for you rather than against you by accurately reflecting your persona, skills and attributes for people to see and view.