Public Relations Today

What Students Should Know About Social Media as They Apply to College

Jayne Miller wrote this on Apr 11, 2016


We’ve long advocated for using social media in the classroom, if possible. There’s too much potential for classroom connectivity, lessons on good digital citizenship, and teaching research skills that will serve students long after they’ve left the classroom to ignore it.

There’s a mini-lesson about social media that will benefit college-bound high schoolers, and that lesson is in refining your social presence as you apply to college.

While most universities have firmly denied using social media as a factor in college admissions, it’s clear that many colleges and universities are at least looking at the social profiles of prospective students. Let’s make sure those admissions officers like what they see.

Audit your accounts

The first and most obvious piece of advice for a student applying to college is to look through all of their social accounts. Take stock of what is public and what is private. Clean up accounts that have images or messages that should have been kept private or are unrepresentative of who you are as an applicant.

It’s very hard to take back something from the internet once it’s been posted, but you can revisit how you’re presenting yourself. If you have public social media profiles, it’s time to put your best foot forward.

Set up a Google alert for yourself

Setting up a Google alert is crazy easy. Now might be a good time to set one up for your name. It’ll be a fast way to monitor whenever your name appears online (more or less). Perhaps you’ll stumble upon an article about your participation in local theater or community service that merits inclusion in your college applications.

Use social as an opportunity to show your personality

This process is a larger exercise in digital citizenship and maintaining a positive digital footprint.

That doesn’t mean deleting everything or switching everything to private mode if you don’t want to. Showcase interests and hobbies that mean a lot to you. Show your human side. Tweet something funny or endearing or inspiring. It’s okay to be you. Make an application officer who looks up your Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Snapchat glad he or she did.

Follow smart

Related tip: follow the schools you’re interested in applying to. Like their pages and share their content. Perhaps you could use social media to ask the schools you're applying to informed questions as a prospective student.

For a smart user, social media doesn’t have to be something you worry about during your application process. Your accounts might just help you research your college decision and stand out from your (less-digital-savvy) peers.

Stay positive

Another no-brainer here: keep it positive on social, when possible. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to keep petty complaints offline (or on private accounts). Positivity looks good on you.

Find a social media mentor

If in doubt, find yourself a social media mentor. Look for someone you can connect with across all of the social networks you use and who can be trusted to let you know when you might want to revisit something you sent out into the interwebs. Having a social media bestie who can serve as a second pair of eyes as you like and share and snap isn’t the worst idea.


Let's get social.

Topics: Student Engagement, social media