It’s a tradition every year: as soon as the seniors start changing their names on Facebook, you know college application season is upon us. There’s always a swarm of paranoia around whether or not colleges are looking at your social media profiles — and how that could affect your admission status. Does it really make that big of a difference? The answer is yes — but that doesn’t mean you should go off the grid for your senior year.
You always want to put your best foot forward online, especially during college application season. According to a 2011 Kaplan study, over 80% of colleges and universities look at your social media when reviewing your application!
That doesn’t mean they’re launching an investigation into your personal life. In fact, most admissions committees come across your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages when attempting to confirm details on your application. For example, if you said you were the captain of your varsity basketball team on your app, they might Google your name to learn more.
Still, while they aren’t trying to snoop, it’s possible they could come across something that doesn’t portray you in the best light, and that might even be a dealbreaker. Herb Hand, former offensive line coach for Penn State, once tweeted, “Dropped another prospect this AM due to his social media presence…Actually glad I got to see the ‘real’ person before we offered him.”
“Dropped another prospect this AM due to his social media presence…Actually glad I got to see the ‘real’ person before we offered him.”
Message received loud and clear: it’s best just to play it safe. Keep red solo cups out of pictures (yes, even if you’re not even holding one) and untag yourself from any posts of you going out. Avoid posting pictures making out with your boyfriend or girlfriend — you and bae might be the cutest couple in the world, but PDA might be a turn off for an admissions committee. And obviously, make sure your profile picture is G-rated.
I know it sounds lame, but it’s not all bad — you can actually use this inside information to your advantage. Now that you know they’re looking, why not flex on them a little? If you’re an athlete, post a highlight reel of your sweetest plays. If your home is the stage, post an album from your most recent show. If you’re on the mock trial team, post a throwback picture of your last debate. Be the best version of yourself online for a little while. It’ll all be worth it when you get that acceptance letter to your dream school.