Students are beginning to realize their social media activities extend beyond their circle of friends. They understand each and every post adds to their discoverable digital dossier and this digital portfolio will be assessed by colleges and employers. They also are beginning to understand why social media college prep is now an important element of their college and career readiness programs.
We are perceived by others as the sum of our social media content found on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms. These mainstream and very public social media platforms present our accomplishments, interests, insights, values and character to others in rich and persuasive ways.
The biggest misconception about social media’s role in college admissions is believing it is a game of chance that can be boiled down to two questions. Will colleges really be looking at my social media? If so, will they find anything bad?
Students who take a proactive stance by inviting colleges to look at their social media create a clear advantage for themselves. First, by showing they have nothing to hide sends a powerful message of transparency and authenticity. Second, they can extend the scope of their application by showing colleges why they are worthy of acceptance in powerful and tangible ways. When a student takes the time to build a digital portfolio of their best work and then includes the link on their college application, chances are colleges will click on that link. Likewise, when their community service activities are documented on their social media pages, a link with an invitation to learn more about their service will likely be accepted.
Social media opens up many new channels to engage and converse with a college community. Administrators, professors, alumni interviewers and other members of a college community are all present on social media. LinkedIn, Twitter and even Instagram can provide touch points within the college community. Savvy students have initiated social media conversations with key influencers to make a positive first impression.
Subject matter curiosity, questions about college life and demonstrated interest in a particular field of study can serve the student well. Getting people to take notice of you in a positive way is a key element of social networking. Beyond that, generic college accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are fully staffed and actively monitor mentions across social media. This creates opportunity for engagement we have never seen before.
The fact is that social media is here to stay and offers a deeper dive into a student's true self than any shortlist of credits and accomplishments. While almost everyone uses social media to spread news amongst existing friends, one of its greatest, often untapped, powers is to showcase a student’s potential to colleges, scholarships, employers/internships, and those who share their interests.
By using social media properly, students may discover that the world is a wider place than they ever imagined.