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How to Clean Up Your Social Media for College Admission

We have one more item for students to add to their college admission to-do lists: Clean up your social media! Here’s why it’s important and what to review.

Social media is an influential part of our daily lives in the modern world. As students gear up for college, it's important to know how your online presence can shake things up in the admission game—for better and for worse. Let’s go over some do’s and don'ts of social media to help you make informed decisions and present your best self in case college admission committees are looking.

Realize the potential impact on college admission

A well-managed social media presence may be able to positively influence admissions officers, adding an extra dimension to your application. On the other hand, a careless online presence can have real negative consequences. Posting inappropriate content or engaging in questionable behavior may raise concerns if admission committees look up your profiles, and some colleges make a point to do so to vet applicants. According to a survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, “11% of respondents said they ‘denied admission based on social media content’ and another 7% rescinded offers for the same reason.”

Related: 3 Easy Ways to Lose Your College Acceptance

Avoid problematic posts

Your online presence on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok can provide potential insight into your personality and hobbies outside of academic life. Admission officers may review your profiles when looking at your college applications, making it crucial to maintain a positive and respectful image. It’s advisable to avoid any inappropriate or offensive content that may adversely affect your chances of securing admission, including:

  • Posts with explicit language, derogatory remarks, or offensive memes
  • Constant complaints or rants about school, teachers, or peers
  • Excessive posts about partying, skipping class, or engaging in irresponsible behavior

These types of posts portray a negative attitude and lack of maturity to admission committees. They also suggest a lack of commitment to academics and personal responsibility. Even if your profile settings are private (and if they aren’t, keep reading!), it's important to think before you post so you don’t have any regrets.

Build a positive online image

A better way to use social media is to exhibit your accomplishments, extracurricular pursuits, and community outreach endeavors as a college-bound student. For example, if you volunteer for a local charity or nonprofit organization, share photos or stories to show how it impacts your community. Post about your leadership roles within school clubs or organizations—like being the student council president or captain of a sports team—and share updates about your initiatives and successes. Attend specialized workshops, seminars, or summer programs related to your academic interests and share insights or experiences gained from these opportunities. These types of posts make a better impression by showcasing your potential as a valuable addition to any college’s academic community and demonstrating your dedication to personal growth.

Related: How to Be Responsible Using Social Media as a Student

Do a digital cleanup

Now that you know what you should and shouldn’t post, your social media profiles may need some spring cleaning. First, scrutinize all your profiles and eliminate any content that could be viewed unfavorably. Delete any unsuitable photos, offensive language, or potentially contentious viewpoints. Even though anything uploaded on the internet can still be discovered, presenting a fresh persona on social media is crucial as you progress through high school and college.

Check your privacy settings

It’s highly recommended that students adjust their privacy settings to regulate the viewership of personal content. If you haven’t yet, navigate to the settings menus of your social media platforms. Typically, you can find this by clicking on your profile picture or avatar and selecting "Settings" or "Account Settings." Look for options related to privacy or security. This section usually allows you to control who can see your posts, who can send you friend or follow requests, and who can view your personal information. Review the available privacy options carefully. You can change settings for profile visibility, post visibility, contact information visibility, and more. Adjust these settings according to your preferences. Even if your settings are private, you should still refrain from sharing overly personal information. You never know who may gain access to it, so it’s crucial to balance sharing your personal life with friends and family and safeguarding personal information from strangers.

Related: How to Prepare Your Social Media for the Job Search

As you approach the college admission process, remember that your online presence is a practical tool that can either help or hinder your prospects. Take the time to curate a positive digital image that aligns with your values. By being mindful of your social media activity, you can ensure that your online persona reflects the qualities colleges seek in prospective students.

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