When it comes to social media and colleges there tend to be a lot of “don’ts.” Don’t post rude comments about your teachers; don’t friend your parents; don’t post pictures of that party you didn’t tell your parents about…There are many pitfalls in social media to be aware of, but this post is about how you can use social media to your advantage when you apply to colleges.
In fact, social media is the next frontier in connecting students with colleges. Students who demonstrate a responsible and creative use of technology can differentiate themselves from other applicants. For many people, your Facebook and Twitter profiles are the first entries that pop up when someone Googles your name, so you want to make sure what’s linked to your name makes admissions officers click, not cringe.
Social networks have the potential to show another facet of who you are. Tweeting, blogging, and updating your status about what you’re interested in and how you’re engaging with your environment demonstrates that you are active and a leader. Social networks are visual, so college admissions officers begin to build a mental image of who you are, what you do, and how you might contribute to a college community. Many students take the strategy of hiding behind pseudonyms and deleting profiles before entering the college application process. If you take initiative early on to establish a positive Internet image, the game of hide and seek won’t even be necessary. Here are our tips:
Look before you leap:
Today, more than ever, colleges are using Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, you name it, to connect with current students, prospective students, and alumni. Take, for example, the list of Story To College’s favorite college Tumblrs (Part I, Part II).
If you don’t have the time or money to visit a school, there are equally informative ways to see a school on the Internet. Don’t just follow the colleges official Tumblr’s school newspapers, student led groups, majors, and Greek organizations often have publicly accessible pages too. Every school has drawbacks and every student gets frustrated at some point. So be careful, and weigh everything you read, hear, and see (good or bad).
Act on your curiosity:
You never know what will be the next big thing (Look at Mark Zuckerberg now!). Be a trendsetter instead of a follower and try out a new way to connect and share ideas with your peers and community. By becoming familiar with the newest social medium early on, you’ll be more equipped to use it to your advantage rather than playing catch up.
Pin to win!:
Pinterest is one of my personal favorite social networks that hasn’t realized its potential. I’ve spent hours looking at delicious foods, DIY projects, fashion, and interior design, and curating my pinboards into different categories. Since Pinterest is visually based, your Pinterest profile is a great addition to a portfolio for design or art school. There is an option to upload your own “pins,” which can then go viral as other users repin and comment on your images. Even if visual arts aren’t your forte, you can still use Pinterest to your advantage. Love to cook? Pin recipes you love and dishes you’ve attempted to cook. Into technology? Post your reviews of the newest gadgets on the market. A literature enthusiast? Pin your favorite book jackets.
Join the conversation:
Mastering the short form writing style is a valuable skill these days. Twitter is a great platform to engage with issues and causes that you care about and demonstrate that you know what’s going on around you and outside of your community. Having strong opinions and talking about them intelligently will make colleges look at you with more respect.
Show that you are part of the conversation by inviting college admissions committees to follow you, but don’t forget to…
Write don’t fight:
The way you express your opinion is equally as important as making your voice heard in the first place. Avoid profanity, and phrase your opinion in a way that opens the door for further discussion. Demonstrating that you have thoughtfully weighed each side of the argument without just complaining is a sign of the maturity required to navigate a diverse college community.
Don’t: F*** my school for taking away senior privileges. @PrincipalJaneDoe hates fun.
Do: Some students abused senior privileges, but it doesn’t seem fair to punish everyone because of a few. Let’s #petition to earn them back.
Know your privacy policies:
First of all, even with privacy policies you should not post anything that you wouldn’t want your parents, friends, and larger community to know about. You never know what might “accidentally” leak out there. Privacy policies change all the time, so make sure you stay up to date because when they do change you could be left exposed!
One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is that if you’re trying to hide something others will probably realize it. While keeping personal information private is important, excessive covering up might lead others to question what you’re hiding and why you’re hiding it…
Effectively navigating social media and new technologies for communication is a lifelong skill, one that can make you a valuable candidate in the workforce work force later on.
This post was written by Story To College’s Community Coordinator, Simone Hill. Simone graduated from Princeton University in 2012 with a concentration in Anthropology.