Everyone knows that social media are pretty much universal at this point. Nonetheless, those of us who use digital technology on a daily basis may even be surprised at how much – and how quickly – that use has grown.
Social Media Can Hurt Your College Bid
In 2006, only 15% of high school students used mobile devices to get news and information, according to a study by the Knight Foundation (a media and arts think tank). By 2011, that percentage was up to 50%, a more than three-fold increase!
More and more high school teens are turning to social networking sites to find news and share opinions and personal information. The Knight Foundation study found that more than 70% of social media users believe “students should be allowed to express opinions about teachers and administrators on Facebook without the risk of school discipline.”
High school students should realize that their private moments are more public than eve, and – fortunately or unfortunately – “the public” will inevitably include someone with a lot of power over their future. Even seemingly harmless comments (ex. “algebra sux!”) can be seen as damaging to your personal brand marketing efforts when viewed through the eyes of the gatekeeper to your chosen college.
Nearly one in four college admissions officers acknowledged checking an applicant’s social network presence, such as a Facebook page, according to a 2011 survey by Kaplan Test Prep. About 20% said they had conducted a Google search of a prospective student. Among college admissions officers who went online to research applicants, 12% found information that hurt a student’s prospects of acceptance. That information included vulgarity, evidence of alcohol use, illegal activities and plagiarism.
Consider the admissions officer’s point of view: two high school students, each with stellar academic grades and sparkling SAT scores, are vying for one spot in a sought-after pre-med program. Tough call – until the admissions officer scans Student A’s Facebook page and finds three dozen photos of the teen swinging beer. Who do you think is going to make the cut?
Clean it Up, Then Shout it Out
Even if you are been a little too free and easy in your social media activity, it’s not too late to take positive action to manage your online identity, and brand yourself as the ideal candidate for the college of your choice. Start by cleaning up your pages — all of them. You do not need to filter yourself to the point where all sense of your personality is lost, but it is important to scrutinize every account for content that paints you as anything but a responsible, academically engaged young adult.
What you do post is just as important as what you do not post. It is imperative to tout your achievements; whether it’s academic awards, community service commitments or sports trophies. Make the most of an impression by spotlighting your unique attributes. Did you find a good home for the neighborhood stray? Tutor your younger brother in math? Shout it out to the world – and to college admissions officers.
With that being said, remember this piece of advice from the National Association for College Admission Counseling: “Although social networking can be fun, remember that sometimes what you post will be in public view, like broadcasting it on the six o’clock news.”
Tyana is a writer for Bisk Education. She works with the online programs from colleges such as Villanova University and New England College. Tyana covers a variety of topics centered around the collegiate community. She is currently a junior at the University of South Florida studying Technical Communications and New Media. Tyana has a passion for learning, technology and internet trends. Email Tyana or Follow her on Twitter: @tyana_daley.