Make Social Media Ally in Admissions

Forbes.com

Lexie Reinecke, Staff Writer

Watch what you post. Don’t curse in the comments. No inappropriate emoji. Would you want your grandmother to see that?

Do these statements sound familiar? These are just a few of the things parents and counselors across the country are telling their college-hopefuls. While much of what we hear about social media is what not to do, there are many things you can do to ensure your online profiles give you a leg up in the arms race of modern college admissions.

First, let’s define social media.

What exactly is it? Merriam Webster defines social media as, “forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.” While this may be accurate, what real world websites fall into this category?

There’s Facebook, popular amongst middle-aged people looking for old high school friends, the six seconds of embarrassment known as Vine, and the reigning selfie-mecca, Instagram. Not to mention Twitter, a scroll of insults masked as #probz, and worst of all, Snapchat, known for the exchanging of supposedly “disappearing” promiscuous pictures.

The problem many teens face with social media is they don’t understand the scope of it. Back in the old days, you could get drunk and do something irresponsible without worrying about anyone finding out. Today, with the power of the Internet, one person could take a picture, post it on Instagram, and within seconds hundreds of people would have evidence of your stupidity on their cellphone. Sound like a nightmare? Unfortunately, it’s a reality for teenagers across the country.

As the negative side of social media is glaringly obvious, many don’t realize its benefits. No, I’m not talking about getting heart-face emoji comments on your photos or messages from a hottie you met online, but more importantly, about how your accounts can get you into college.

That’s right: C-O-L-L-E-G-E.

In her podcast, “24 Things You can Do with Social Media to Get into College,” blogger Gina Carroll explains why colleges are “stalking” you online. “You are creating an image; a brand of yourself. You are telling the world, and the internet, who you are, and at the very least, how you want to be seen. This is why colleges are so very interested in finding you online, because it is a self definition of who you are,” she said.

Right about now you might be questioning why this is relevant to you. Here’s why: “You can optimize those spaces so that when colleges come and look for you, they find your highest and best self.”

Let’s cut to the chase. How can you –yes YOU– up your chances of admittance?

First of all, clean up your profiles. All those pictures where your shirt’s just a little bit too revealing, you’re holding a Red solo cup, or sitting on some guys shoulders have got to go.

I don’t care if that one with you holding a beer is really your most flattering selfie, and colleges definitely won’t be sympathetic to your argument of “But look how great my cheekbones look!” To sound like a parent, use the grandmother trick. If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, it’s gotta go.

Once you’ve completed your day-long activity of clicking and re-clicking that big red delete button, it’s time to polish up your profile.

Carroll gives this tip: “[You can] use your social media to showcase your talents and accomplishments.”  Got those action shots of you making that great goal in soccer or one of you at that debate tournament? Take these pictures and post them up! Basically, choose pictures which show off your assets.

It’s like your old-method of finding the right lighting for your coloring, but with clubs and sports teams instead. Rather than just using the pictures you have, be proactive about getting new ones. With that tennis tournament coming up, make sure to pack, or let’s be honest, have your mom pack, the family camera.

There’s nothing more attractive to recruiters than a shot of you, nice cheekbones and all, flashing a toothy grin and holding a trophy.