Many of you are deep into your college search process, and may even be waiting to hear back from your dream school. There are many things to think about during the application process, but there’s something you may overlook: your Facebook page. That picture of your crazy weekend may be exactly what could keep you from getting accepted.
In a recent study, the director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth found that “21% of colleges used social-networking sites for recruiting prospects and gathering information about applicants.” Furthermore, another study that included 500 top colleges found that 38% of admissions counselors have looked at applicant’s social-networking sites and said that “what they saw ‘negatively affected’ their views of the applicant.”
Although some colleges and universities disregard social networking sites in their application process, it is still a big risk. A professor of my colleague’s gave her this advice: use your social media sites as if you’re friends with your mother. Today, my mother is one of my Facebook friends, but I use privacy settings to control what she can see and I monitor my own and my friends’ comments to make sure my reputation is not negatively affected by their activity on my profile.
My advice? Use the tools social media sites offer, and set your privacy setting on your photos and wall access, but also be aware that if you are posting on a controversial topic, using profane language, or even discussing your prospective schools online, you are risking people’s perceptions of you. Privacy settings can help you control what people see, but remember that establishing your own, personal “settings” can be just as helpful when insuring your page represents the best version of yourself.