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Social media is great way to share your everyday experiences – beautiful vacations, delicious meals, fun times had with family and friends. But, did you know that your social media posts could affect your future?  

I’m sure you’ve heard that your online presence could affect your future employment, but that’s not all. Corporate recruiters, college admissions officers, scholarship committees, and even coaches might Google you before extending you an offer. With so many students being almost equally qualified for an opportunity, an online presence is often used as a “tie-breaker” to ensure the most deserving person is rewarded.

Without even realizing it, the content you share online is creating a strong first impression that could make or break your future.

What can you do?

Keep things private

Unless you’re an influencer with hundreds-of-thousands of followers and getting paid for your content, there’s no reason to share your everyday life with the world. Set all your profiles to private. 

Make sure you’re setting your friends list, past photos, and posts to private as well.

Be Approachable

Even once your profile has been set to “private” basic information and the cover photo will still be visible. You might look great in a picture you took at a party last weekend while drinking with your friends, but if you’re underage, it’s probably best that you don’t share it online.

It’s always best that the main pictures on your profile are not only age-appropriate but also clean and approachable.

Know Your Friends

Scrub your friend list. You don’t need a list of 1,000 people on your Facebook account to show you’re popular. All it does is put you at risk of exposure. If someone is trying to find more information about you and sees that maybe even 10 out of that 1,000 have very offensive content or criminal history, you may be considered guilty by association.

Watch What You Say

The old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” still applies. The first amendment of the Constitution may be Freedom of Speech, but that doesn’t mean you should share every thought that crosses your mind online.

It should go without saying but, don’t be a bully, make racist remarks, or be hateful. Additionally, if you feel the need to engage in an online political debate, it’s completely possible to keep your comments respectful while still making your point.

In other words, if you wouldn’t say it in church or in front of your grandparents, you probably shouldn’t put in online.

Picture Perfect

A picture is worth a thousand words, and most people have hundreds if not thousands of pictures shared or tagged on each social media platform. Be mindful of the photos you’re sharing, but most of all, pay attention to the pictures others are sharing of you.

Change your setting so you can’t be tagged in a picture without your permission. If you feel that a picture or video is inappropriate and you don’t want others to see it, ask the sharer to take it down. If that doesn’t work, you can report pictures/videos and ask the moderators of the platform to remove it for you.

The Internet is Forever

“Felt cute, might delete later” is great in theory, but it only takes 1 second to screenshot a photo or comment. The internet is forever. So, you might think you’re getting rid of evidence, but it’s still floating around somewhere.

Remember when Roseanne Barr was coming back to TV with a new show? I bet you don’t remember the name of that show! That’s because Roseanne tweeted an inappropriate comment about a former adviser in the Obama Administration, and the network canceled the show. 

Imagine you make a comment about something you experience now, and years later someone brings it up in a job interview. It could eliminate you from consideration, especially if it’s something where you might be in a representative capacity of the company.

Share with Confidence

Social media can be a strong and powerful tool if used correctly. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be able to create a strong first impression to help you land that interview or maybe win a scholarship or two! 

We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.