Let’s face it—everybody is on social media these days. Parents, grandparents, neighbors, and even teachers have social media profiles across a large number of platforms. The age of social media is upon us, and it is certainly changing the way we interact with one another. An effective social media presence can even make or break students in some situations, so it is important to curate an image of yourself worth presenting to the world—particularly when it comes to admissions.
While it may feel simpler to just delete your profiles as you apply to colleges, it isn’t necessary. In fact, by following a few simple rules, you may even be able to successfully market yourself when applying to colleges by establishing good social media practices.
Explore what you can and can’t control
Because each social media platform is different, it is important to examine the exact capabilities of each. Find out what you may be able to control to protect your privacy. You may be able to limit who sees what, which can be useful in presenting a certain image of yourself.
You may also be able to request that you’re able to either approve or deny pending followers or friends, ensuring that strangers receive very little—or no—information, if you so choose.
Remember to think twice
Social media platforms have quickly transformed into a space in which individuals can express everything they’re feeling—which isn’t necessarily a good thing! Because they are so easy to use, we tend to be reactionary at times, posting in moments of excitement or even anger.
A good rule of thumb is to wait 15 minutes before posting. In that time, you may reevaluate what it is you want to share with the world. Your posts will be more cohesive, logical, and thoughtful. Assume future employers as well as college admissions officers are browsing your social media.
Show excitement about the schools to which you’re applying
A great way to tell potential colleges that you’re really invested in them is by engaging with them on social media. Perhaps you have a photograph of you visiting the campus or hanging out with the mascot—these are great additions to your profiles!
It can also be a good idea to go as far as interacting with the schools. Repost articles about them, respond to their posts, or mention them specifically when you’re posting updates. This establishes a connection between yourself, the school, and people you may someday be interacting with there.
Do a double-check by Googling yourself
While you may be fairly certain that you’ve adjusted your privacy settings to your specifications, it can’t hurt to check up on the situation. Imagine that you are an admissions staff member from a school you’re applying to—what’s the first thing you do? Perform a web search on the applicant, often with Google.
To perform this action yourself, open a private window so you aren’t logged into any social media sites. Search your name and click on any profiles that come up for you—how do they look? If they aren’t “clean” enough, do some revising. You may even be able to make these profiles harder to find by taking them off of Google search results.
Finally, you may even want to Google a few other people you know—their profiles may provide good guidelines or give you valuable insight as to what’s easy to find, what isn’t, and what looks good.
Think carefully about the image you wish to present
It may seem like the key to social media management when applying to college is in lying or at least covering up the truth, but that’s not it at all. Instead, you want to project an image of yourself that is accurate and professional, which can be achieved without being dishonest. Think about the person you are and the person you want to be, and make sure your social media profiles represent that effectively.
If you are political, there are ways to express your beliefs in a respectful way. If you’re into cooking, post pictures of the impressive meals you create. By curating your profiles to purposefully reflect the person you are, you actually offer admissions representatives valuable insight into the type of student and individual you will be on their campus.
A few final words
The key to social media management is balance—your profiles should ideally paint the portrait of someone who is professional, passionate about higher learning, and well-rounded with some fun outside interests as well. If you have to question whether or not something should have a place on your account, chances are that it doesn’t.
Remember that many admissions professionals also have social media profiles themselves, so they understand the various ways students interact on social media. By keeping your profiles clean, professional, and fun, you ensure they’re not a burden to the admissions process—in fact, they may even help you!
Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.