Posting with Purpose: Social Media Do's and Don'ts for College Bound Teens

Your children are being told to stay away from posting on social media. This advice is not only wrong, it could actually be hurting your children’s chance of getting into their chosen college.  

College Admissions officers are increasingly turning to social media to evaluate the applicants to their schools. There are many students with good SATs,  “A” grades, extracurricular activities, and strong essays on their applications; but a student’s social media can tell a much broader story about the applicant. 

There are things that will hurt your children’s chance of getting accepted, such as antisocial or racist comments, inappropriate photographs, or bad language. But as much as Admissions officers are looking at problems, they are far more interested in the positive qualities of their applicants. 

Admissions officers turn to social media to get an understanding of the applicant that no application or short essay can provide. Does the applicant participate in community service activities, have a passion for the course of study indicated on the application, interact well with friends online, and communicate effectively? Not surprisingly, they want to see if the applicant is really interested in their school. 

When Admissions officers look at social media and see a student with no presence on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or Instagram; they either think the applicant has something to hide or is not a social person. This can hurt the applicant’s chances of getting accepted over students with a stronger social media presence. Do you want your children to lose their chance because they are invisible?

When Admissions officers search for someone with a common name, they may find other applicants with the same name, some of whom may have had difficulties. If there are enough students with the same name, the admissions officers may give up searching. Do you want your child to suffer because of mistaken or difficult to define identity?

Many applicants have done really interesting things during in high school. They have participated in community service activities, traveled to interesting places, worked on programs that would give them a leg up upon entering college, and learned valuable life lessons through extracurricular activities.  Yet if they do not write about these experiences, the Admissions officers may miss the elements in the personal development of your child. Don’t you want your child to have a powerful online presence that will impress Admissions officers?

When Admissions officers look at social media, they also want to see the applicant is interested in their school. If the applicant posts about a college visit, shows a picture wearing a college jersey, or talks about specific professors, the Admissions officer will know the applicant is engaged. If your child loves a particular school, don’t you think this is a message worth conveying to an Admissions officer?

Helping your child develop a powerful online presence is relatively easy. The first step is to realize that social media is an important tool for college admissions, not just a plaything for teenagers. There are only a few key websites that Admissions officers use, so focusing on them will not be difficult. 

The second step is to work with your children to make sure they post not only the pictures at a party, but also the pictures and experiences that would make them desirable students. Ask them if they have posted something about a community service or an extracurricular activity. In many cases the answer will be no. 

Finally, look at their applications. Are the interests they show on their applications consistent with their social media presence? If they are not, your children are at a disadvantage.

This may seem daunting, especially if you are not experienced with social media. But it is very easy to help your child develop a powerful social media presence that will increase chances of college admissions. 

At Social Assurity, we provide workshops and tutorials focusing on key websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram, that will teach you and your children important tools for improving their social media presence. Our job is to work with you to enhance your child’s chance of getting into the college of his or her choice. 

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