How To Improve Your Social Media Presence For College Admissions | College Admissions Handbook
Imagine the predicament of the college admissions officer. He or she views a seemingly endless number of student profiles containing impressive test scores, grades, essays, recommendations, and extracurricular activities.
Somehow, this agent must decide which people will receive an offer of admission and which will not. How should a college-bound student stand out in such a large and competitive crowd?
You might be surprised to learn that one of the answers to this question is social media. Increasingly, colleges and universities are looking for candidates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and several other social networks. They can also search on Google with the names of the candidates.
While not all schools participate in these practices — and even those that do may not screen all potential incoming students — you can never be quite sure who may be looking for you online, when, and why.
Here are five questions to ask yourself about your internet presence as you prepare to apply to colleges:
- How can you strengthen your candidacy?
- How can you demonstrate your interest in a program?
- How can you influence searches for your name?
- How to get off the beaten track?
- How can you communicate more personally with the admissions staff?
How can you strengthen your candidacy?
Many high school students think the best thing to do is to clean their online accounts of the bad stuff. They can spend hours combing through and deleting all comments, images, posts, tags, etc. potentially questionable.
While this purge step is important, building a positive online persona is just as essential.
First of all, it is useful to check and publish elements that corroborate the information contained in your application. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other outlets can provide the compelling visual support that mere words in a resume or essay cannot. Whenever possible, add relevant and concise hashtags to your posts so that they appear more in search results.
If you’re a musician or actor, for example, consider posting photos of your performances. If you’re an athlete, upload a video of yourself performing well during a game. If you do volunteer, share something that shows you are working in that capacity. This lends credibility and weight to your application.
Even often overlooked factors like proper grammar and inclusive language can look good on you.
How can you demonstrate your interest in a program?
Feel free to use social media platforms to connect with colleges you are interested in or key people associated with them. For example, it might be a good idea to “friend” or follow professors who teach in the department you want to be affiliated with.
You can interact with schools in several ways, including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These are direct and convenient portals to express interest before even visiting the campus or going for an interview.
Also, be aware that LinkedIn allows you to build a network of contacts at a specific college or university. You can also use LinkedIn to create a sort of virtual resume and ask those who know you to endorse you for the skills you list.
How can you influence searches for your name?
During the college application process, it is important to ensure that search engines return positive results with your name.
Fortunately, there are many ways to create a favorable online presence. Musicians, athletes, actors – anyone whose performances or products would be best expressed in video format – should consider starting a YouTube channel. Aspiring writers can get the most out of creating a blog with regular posts. Potential photographers and painters can use Pinterest or Tumblr to display their work.
Whichever method you choose, always put your best foot forward. A sea of ”I like to learn!” posts may seem scripted, and dozens of kitten videos may seem silly. Be authentic but selective about what you share.
How to get off the beaten track?
People generally think that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the social media giants. In fact, most higher education institutions maintain a profile on each platform. Note that some colleges may have only one generic profile, while others may have additional pages for undergraduate or graduate students, or students of particular majors. Generally, the more specific the page, the more closely it can be monitored by admissions staff.
Still, the influence of Reddit and Quora should not be underestimated. On these two websites, which some would call “untapped resources,” you can demonstrate your ability to engage in mature conversations, contribute meaningfully to discussions, and display the full range of your interests. Create an account on either by answering questions you know well and receiving upvotes for solid content.
How can you communicate more personally with the admissions staff?
Once you are happy with your social media presence, try to get college admissions officers to notice you on one or more websites.
First, find the admissions office — and recruiting officers, if you can find their names — at the colleges you’re interested in. Then send them an email with your name, your target enrollment year, a few sentences summarizing your interest, and some links to your top social media profiles.
Finally – and this is the key – ask if you can get in touch with a recruiter. A question that needs an answer will help you get noticed, even if it’s just for the simple fact that you took the initiative to reach out.
If you’re lucky, the recruiter will offer advice on how to engage with that school specifically. Follow these tips as closely and diligently as possible.
Social media can not only open up new avenues of communication with potential colleges, but it can also offer the opportunity to present yourself in a way that other application factors cannot.