Your hilarious post about your teacher falling in class got 256 likes. Your ugly selfie SnapChat was screenshot a half dozen times. You may have forgotten about these posts but trust me, it’s out there and it matters.
We live our lives on social media showing the world what we believe is the best version of ourselves. And why not, it’s all in good fun, it’s what it was created for, right? Well, from time to time you do need to take a step back and review what you’ve been putting out on the world wide web with fresh eyes and consider who may be viewing this content.
You probably never thought your dream college or future employer would be checking out your social profiles and making their first impression based on your latest status update. In a world where there are more and more students applying to college each year, schools want and need a different lens to understand the individuals that will possibly enrich their community over the coming years. Harsh as that may sound: one of the easiest ways for colleges to weed students out is through an applicant’s digital presence.
I did a quick search on Twitter recently and here are just few of the things that came up from my high school students’ tag lines (entirely searchable):
“avid boyfriend follower”
“I’m a smoker…midnight toker”
“Alyssa’s the hottest person I know”
Seemingly harmless, but do you see why these might be problematic out of context?
Here’s the thing, we probably all have posted something similar. It is when we take a step back to review, that we realize how unbecoming these posts can be.
Last year, an estimated 35% of colleges looked up college applicants online. This number is up from years prior, and the projection is the number will continue to increase each year.
So how can you protect your Social Media presence? Here are a few tips to consider:
- Adjust your privacy settings so other people cannot post on your wall, comment, etc. The company you keep is a reflection of you. Do not allow other “friends” to have free reign on your digital presence.
- Pause and think before you post. You probably have not been framing your posts thinking “Will my dream college approve of this?” Error on the side of caution if you have even a 1% doubt it might be misinterpreted in a negative way – do not post it.
- Avoid negativity, improper jokes, bad grammar, overly personal information.
- Made some past mistakes? Now is the time to clean it up. If your grandmother would not approve of your page, then clean it up.
- Do not delete your social media! This is a red flag to colleges. (More on this in the next log.)
It’s not all negative; colleges are also using social media to find what makes you unique and interesting, so be smart about the what your social media says about you, by putting your best foot forward. Stay tuned for the next post: Developing a Positive Internet Presence.