Friending Your Education: Social Media and College Fit

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Social media has made communicating with people near and far easier, creating an easy canvas for individuals to paint a picture of what makes them unique. These personal outlets offer opportunities and dangers for college applicants looking to find the right school that meets their “college fit” needs.

The relationship between schools and prospective students involving social media has certainly become a two-way street. A recent survey of 403 schools showed that 35% of college admissions officers considered an applicant’s social media as part of their approval process. That means that everything a student posts on Facebook or Twitter, or broadcast to their YouTube or Vine channel can effect the chances of getting in to that college they’ve worked so hard to find.

Rather than make this a stern warning to purify feeds, though, students can take advantage of this scrutiny, using social media as a way to present a more fuller picture of themselves, the part of them that doesn’t show up in test scores and GPAs. Yes, Facebook pages shouldn’t show pictures of excessive partying or rude comments about other students or schools. That’s just courteous online behavior.

It’s the elements of social media that allows students “be themselves” that colleges find interesting. So students should find positive ways to show that. Posting content from other sites that underscores interests will help create a fuller image of both a potential student and a person in the world. Linking to articles relevant to hobbies, uploading music or artwork and sharing photos or videos from sporting events, performances or volunteer work is not only a great way to show off personal passions to family and friends, but can also benefit when a college wants to know more that what’s on the application or on the essay.

If a student has a school (or schools) they’ve recently visited or are targeting for application, following that school will not only help give a glimpse at college life through information about campus events, it might offer other important news that may be relevant to an application or admission decision. Plus, it never hurts to know what’s going on at campus when speaking with an admissions rep or during a campus visit. It shows the student has a specific interest in what the school has to offer.

In a way, the relationship between a student and a school is a lot like any other online friendship. Just as people love to see an increasing number of likes or RTs to their posts, schools love to see (and share) positive feedback from potential students. A post or tweet about a student visit or in response to something going on at the school can go a long way when an admissions officer looks at a student’s social media history.

Being aware of the social media’s impact will give students an effective tool in not only learning more about their college options, but presenting themselves as the right kind of student for their desired school.

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