The Social Media Mistakes That Can Kill Your College Application

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Social media is unavoidable these days, as sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the main hub for talking with friends near and far. What you post on social media can influence what your friends think of you, but for high school students looking to find that perfect college, social media can help or hurt you.

Last month, we looked at the ways that students can make their social media presence look its best for college admission officers who might swing by to take a look. But what are the things that will immediately send up red flags on a student’s page? A recent survey by the New York City Department of Education found that for both students and job applicants, social media is a very common way for employers or college admissions officers to find out more about a candidate. Of those surveyed, one in four college admissions officers used Facebook or Googled a potential student to find out more about them. More importantly, two out of 3 found something negative when researching.

So what qualifies as negative? The worst things respondents listed include:

  • Inappropriate photos or information
  • Evidence of drinking or drug use (either in photos or posts)
  • A reflection of poor communication skills by the candidate
  • Bad-mouthing other schools
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion or other topic
  • Lying about activities or other accomplishments that were on the student’s resume

It’s just another reminder of what students who have grown up with social media know, but don’t always practice: Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t say in real life. A digital presence leaves a much longer lasting mark than a student might otherwise think.


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