You have finally finished high school, and now you will apply for that dream college you’ve always wanted to attend. Everything in the application process goes smoothly, even better than you expected. Just then, the college administrators ask about the content you posted on Twitter, and suddenly your admission is in jeopardy.
Do colleges actually look at your social media? Is what you post there liable to have your acceptance letter revoked? What should and shouldn’t you post there if you don’t want this to be a problem?
Do Colleges Actually Look at Your Social Media Accounts?
In 2020, Kaplan performed a survey that showed that a large and growing number of admissions officers find it “fair game” to use an applicant’s social media as par of their decision to accept them. 65 percent of the over 300 college admissions officers that were surveyed had no issue with such, a number that is greater than the 57 percent from 2020. By comparison, only 35 percent consider an applicant’s social media to be their private business and thus do not have it factor into admission.
So yes—colleges do look at an applicant’s social media accounts, and many in fact use them as part of the applicant process for incoming students. Applicants should consider and expect to have their social media as part of their application process.
However, it is important to keep in mind that colleges rarely can just invade your privacy and see things that you wouldn’t want anyone to see (though, on a related note, accessing personal information on school property will result in this). Colleges are only allowed to see what you let them see, and it’s entirely possible to hide information or not post anything that will gain their ire. And no college will penalize you for simply not having a social media account.
What role does social media play in college applications? Is there a chance that you can be rejected from a college for your content on social media?
The Role of Social Media in College Applications
What role does social media play in college applications? We mentioned that email addresses are typically asked for in an application. But how do sites and apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other media impact admission?
Colleges consider social media as an extension of a student’s personhood. What they do and say on social media may be reflective of what they may do and say on campus. Colleges have codes of conduct to prevent students from committing actions that may harm other students in such a way, and colleges will often include their social media activity as part of that. For example, Reuters reported a case in Harvard University where ten applicants had their acceptances revoked due to the discovery of their participation in a private Facebook group that shared racist and sexually-explicit images. However, colleges have more to worry about than social media regarding admission. Often, they will not bother if a student does not give a reason for them to check.
When we consider the colleges that take social media seriously, what do they look for in a student’s social media? What should and shouldn’t a student post there?
What Colleges Look for in Social Media?
If a student ends up in a college that scrutinizes their social media accounts, the college will look for things such as whether a student adheres to their code of conduct.
If a college is going to look at a student’s social media, they would look for things such as their everyday activity, as well as whether or not they are saying anything that would be considered offensive or controversial. However, the depth of their search is limited to how much the student posts to allow others to see what is posted.
So, what should and shouldn’t a student post on their social media?
What to Post and Not to Post in Social Media?
What a college may or may not consider proper conduct for a student may differ depending on the college. There is no absolute certainty, and it’s as easily possible that they do not care about what a student does on social media at all. Regardless, if you are still concerned about what a college may or may not look for, we have a few “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that you may follow.
These are general suggestions and not laws, but heeding this advice would be beneficial no matter where you go, even if you are not in college.
Following these do’s can improve your image in a college and make it less likely that your social media will negatively affect your chances of getting in or staying.
The do’s of what to post on social media will include:
- An interest in school and education. You don’t necessarily need to demonstrate an interest in the school you’re going to right now, but expressing a passion for learning and learning from a school environment is ideal.
- Any positive reception from peers or other authority figures. When you highlight positive feedback from peers, it can be a valuable addition to your social media presence. Share testimonials, compliments, or positive feedback you’ve received about your academic work, extracurricular activities, or contributions to the community.
- Passions and highlights of your life. Colleges like seeing prospective students be active in school and their daily lives. The college will have them interact with many people, after all, so some Do’s include demonstrating your passions, like art, driving, reading, etc.
Following these don’ts can help you avoid a situation with an uncomfortable college and ensure your admission goes smoothly.
The don’ts of what to post on social media will include:
- Evidence of any illegal activity. While previous crimes and related issues are dealt with before admission, for students attending, evidence of underage drinking, for example, may catch the negative attention of the college.
- The use of offensive language and/or content. These include hateful content (including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.), slurs, insults towards other people, and explicit content. Colleges rarely want to be associated with students who engage in offensive activity.
How to Improve Your Social Media Presence for College Admissions: 3 Tips
If you are still concerned about your social media presence, then it would be ideal to slim it down. We have three concise but good tips for ensuring your social media presence will not be an issue.
Hide What You Don’t Want People to See
Social media accounts have many ways to remain private despite being on a public platform. People can delete or privatize comments or keep them between close friends, where a college or stranger cannot see them. Do be aware, however, that these are still public platforms—in one way or another.
Limit Your General Posting
Many people love to post on social media and would post their entire lives there for all to see. But if you want to avoid people seeing what you don’t want them to see or value a private life, limiting the amount of social media posting is best. Think about what you will post and whether it is worth posting at all. Your accounts may be less lively, but you are also less at risk of posting something that can jeopardize your attendance.
Be Proud of What You Do Want People to See
Socializing is a huge boon for any attending college student, as it may positively impact your life after you are done with college! You should be posting your passions, hobbies, love for school, and other things that bring you joy on your social media account. You can also interact and be social with other college students or even the official college channels. Don’t be shy when you find the things you want other people to see or have no problem showing to people.
Wrapping Things Up: Do Colleges Look at Your Social Media?
Do colleges look at your social media? Like many things, it depends on the college. Colleges that care about what you post on social media are interested only in seeing that you follow the school’s conduct. Ultimately, what they see and why you post is entirely at your discretion: if this is an issue you are concerned about, you are well within your ability to express yourself or maintain your privacy!