The Internet will be 26 years old on March 12. The smartphone is 23. Facebook turned 11 on February 4. The iPhone is 8. While still young, social media becoming a preferred way to communicate, even in college planning.
A 2014 PewResearchCenter survey reports that Americans have increased their engagement of social media. Social networking sites like Facebook are used 2.5 times more than microblogs like Twitter and Instagram. Among the five platforms studied, 71% of users check Facebook every day. Another study showed that students are using social media several hours a week. We are becoming more comfortable interacting with people in virtual settings – from completing group projects to gaming to researching colleges.
Many college admissions officers are engaging potential students on social media. In the recent application season, six of the Ivy League colleges used social media to boost their applications. When I posted a photo along with a caption saying I visiting the University of Oklahoma campus, I received 6 retweets and 19 favorites before my tour ended. A few reached out to say hello.
Colleges are posting more pictures and videos so students can imagine themselves on campus. They are answering questions relating to the social and emotional life on campus allowing students to make better decisions.
But don’t just focus on the strengths of the college, especially if you are one of the first people in your family to attend college. Just like you are doing in your applications, each college is going to present itself at its best. Respond to their posts by asking about their struggles or setbacks. Savvy students need to discover the truth before committing 4-6 years of their life to a university. And if you are not able to connect and engage with people on the college you’re interested in, it may not be the right college for you.
With the increase in social media usage and potential employers and colleges reviewing feeds, you should be aware of a few things regarding your social footprint. Being comfortable on social media gives some a tendency to say and share things publically that may have kept private otherwise. Admissions officers are measuring your application against your public thoughts. The University of Oklahoma will view your social media if you are being considered for a scholarship.
Admissions officers may question the judgment of potential students who takes the time to post disparaging remarks. The article, They Loved Your GPA Then They Saw Your Tweets, reported that “30% of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects.” In 2012, the survey showed that 15% reviewed social media. While the majority of college admissions officers don’t have the time or resources to review social media posts, it could very well become the norm.
Finally, here are some steps you can take to improve your social media footprint:
So what impression is your social media footprint leaving when it comes to college admissions?
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.