Maintaining a Good Online Presence for College Admissions

Maintaining a Good Online Presence for College Admissions

Whether we like it or not, the internet is becoming a greater part of our lives every day.

That said, the internet is also becoming a greater part of the college admissions process. From the Common App being available online to colleges having Facebook and Twitter accounts to yours truly, The Collegiate Blog, it is hard for the world wide web to not play a role. As social media becomes more and more popular, however, privacy becomes more and more difficult to maintain. It’s no surprise that potential employers, scholarship sponsors, and college admissions officers use the internet to research their applicants. It is important to have a good online presence in order to represent yourself to the world (and future employers) in the best possible way. A good start is being aware of your current state on the internet, so try Googling yourself if you haven’t already. Obviously, there are bound to be other people with your name, but it’s always interesting to see what results pop up. Here are some tips for all of you social media butterflies:

Make sure you check/know your privacy settings. College admissions officers may not be expert investigators like Lisbeth Salander, but it’s best not to underestimate them because you never know–they definitely have their ways.

Don’t post (or take, for that matter,) pictures of yourself…

  • naked
  • doing drugs
  • imbibing/carousing
  • having sex
  • shooting people or committing hate crimes
  • engaging in any other illegal activity

Courtesy of Steve via Creative Commons

Here are some visual examples of what not to post:

Courtesy of Jacrews7 via Creative Commons


Courtesy of SuicideGirls via Creative Commons

– Anything you post can be saved, even if you delete it right away. There could always be someone online that sneaks in a screenshot before it “disappears.”

– Try to refrain from posting about stupid things that you’ve done or anything that could be interpreted as extremely offensive in general.

– Privacy settings don’t always work the way you think they will, so be wary of that.

But while it is very important to take these precautions online, that doesn’t mean you should avoid social media at all costs. That also doesn’t mean your photos all have to look like this:

Courtesy of Zhangshuo517 via Creative Commons

Courtesy of Frank Gosebruch via Creative Commons

Courtesy of Archiboldian via Creative Commons

Although those pictures can be fun.

On the contrary, having a powerful social media platform can convince admissions officers of your engagement in the world (or at least in the online community). Maybe you have a Twitter that avidly follows and reports and comments on football games, or maybe you write for a blog about combating homophobia. That sort of presence will catch the admissions officer’s eye and give you a sort of more three-dimensional personality by showing more than what you wrote in your application. By the way, that doesn’t mean you should all of a sudden scramble together a website that analyzes and discusses the works of Michel Foucault.