Social Media – Do’s & Don’ts
A 2016 time magazine article reported that 40 percent of admissions officers say they check out applicants’ social media pages. Why? To learn more about each applicant’s creative interests, to verify unusual or noteworthy awards, and/or to investigate reports of inappropriate or illegal behavior.
There’s also good news from the article, which cited a Kaplan Test Prep survey for its statistics. One-third of admissions officers found something positive on applicants’ social media pages, such as community service work or leadership roles.
So what exactly should you post (and avoid posting) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites? We have the lowdown!
DON’T post photos of yourself doing anything illegal or that could be misconstrued as illegal. A photo of you holding up a bottle of cream soda at a party may seem innocent—until you realize it looks like a beer bottle from far away.
DO write posts about your awards, honors and acknowledgments. Did you win a writing award? Were you acknowledged for your fundraising work at your church? Did you make it into the National Honor Society? Being proud of your determination and hard work isn’t boasting; it’s simply highlighting an important part of who you are.
DON’T tweet or post curse words or memes with inappropriate undertones. Even something posted months ago can still show up.
DO be sure to remove tags linking you to any less-than-desirable posts. Remember when that girl your parents don’t really trust tagged you in the photo of her graffiti? Untag yourself, or it could look like you’re running with the wrong crowd.
DON’T join Facebook groups that reflect poorly on your character. Joining “Girls in STEM Fields” looks great. “Vapor Vixens” is a no-go.
DO post photos of yourself with your mentors, heroes and local leaders. Show admissions officials who you look up to.
DON’T post anything on other people’s pages that you wouldn’t want the college to find, including messages that could come across as bullying. Suggestive images or disrespectful language can be red flags to colleges.
DO let your social media pages tell the real story of who you are. Showcase your friends and family, your flair for cooking, your quirky collection of hats, and your tennis talent.
DON’T forget to post pictures from your week in France, your summer vacation on a dude ranch or your class trip to Washington, D.C. Include comments about what you loved most, what you learned, what surprised you and why travel is important to you.
DO write about your community service, including images of your volunteer work with animals or the house you helped build with Habitat for Humanity. Colleges look for compassion, leadership and commitment, and few things show those characteristics more than unpaid work.
As a rule of thumb, ask yourself if you’d submit that photo/meme/tweet as part of your admissions packet. If the answer is no, get to work on cleaning up your social media profile!