5 Reasons Why Students Must Up Their Social Media Game For College Admissions

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, service, interests, and accomplishments. Here are 5 reasons why:  

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

Whether it’s Kaplan Test Prep's annual survey of college admissions officers or some other sourced survey, we know that at least 25% of college admissions officers in the United States look at applicant social media “regularly and routinely” during the admissions process. We also know that up to 75% of college admissions officers are willing to look at applicant social media admissions officers when invited to do so.

Reason #2: Use Social Media Proactively to Craft the Essay of Your Life

College admissions officers have neither the time nor the interest to search social media simply to find reasons to reject qualified applicants. 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. Having a digital presence that is hard to find and fails to tell colleges the story you would want to tell them is a missed opportunity.

Reason #3: Character and Fit

Many schools are placing an increasing emphasis on personal qualities that will lead students to succeed in college. This renewed focus includes examining “curiosity, love of learning, perseverance, good character, and grit” in addition to the standard “grades, rigor, curriculum, and other qualitative data.”

Social media is one way of delivering this missing and actionable information to admissions, enrollment, and financial offices. Not only can social media positively impact acceptance and scholarship decisions by showing an applicant’s readiness, abilities, skills, and character but it can also be used to gauge an applicant’s interest in attending a particular college. A student's chances for admission will greatly improve once they understand how to utilize social media to demonstrate interest, convey good character, and showcase the skills and personal attributes colleges are looking for to set themselves apart from other qualified applicants.

Reason #4: Many Colleges Use Social Media to Proactively Engage With Students

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 college officials, alumni and current students is a positive for applicants if, and only if, their 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 #5: Enrollment Yield Algorithms

Schools can now get a complete picture of their applicants, including what they’re saying and thinking about them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter – which could be even more meaningful than traditional data points like GPA and SAT. Colleges have begun to use algorithms that work on an individual-student basis to profile and predict their behavior. They use social media data, as well as the data supplied by the applications, to compute the likelihood a given student will enroll if accepted, the extent of financial aid needed by the student – or needed to seduce a relatively well-off student.

The best generic advice for students is to create a discoverable social media presence designed for colleges that showcases their character, highlights their service, and/or conveys their commitment to an activity. Social media should be viewed as their digital college essay which can be appended to their college applications.

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