As long as our schools remain committed to the view that social media is a disruptive force that needs to be controlled, monitored or even ignored, they are failing their students. Using discipline to regulate student social media activities without first delivering purposeful social media education only perpetuates the prevailing negative view of social media.
Whether your students are or will be applying to college, graduate school or trying to find a job, they will need to impress more than just the admissions office or human resources department. There are alumni, professors, current employees, managers, and interviewers who might have a say in the decision and who will want to know more about them than what they provide on their résumé, essay or application.
Many schools and employers will Google their name to check out their overall online presence and social media activities. Will they be able to find your students and, if so, what story is their digital presence telling? This is their virtual narrative and it must align with the claims of their application. This is called “social proof."
Remember, colleges and employers are not looking to find reasons to reject them but when they cannot be found or their online presence leaves much to be desired then social media becomes a problem. Yet, this is easily fixed via a digital life skills educational program.
Developing a discoverable and reflective online presence involves much more than character vetting. Postsecondary schools and employers also see social media as a massive database where they can search for and identify students and employees possessing specific skills, talents and attributes. This is called “social recruiting.
Like Amazon, LinkedIn receives priority placement on Google searches. Having an optimized LinkedIn profile is increasingly important for college and graduate school admissions and for scholarship reviews. LinkedIn is also a critical platform as they embark on their career.
These scenarios show the growing importance of crafting a social media presence that proactively displays skills, accomplishments, interests, and aspirations for others to discover, view and assess. A digital portfolio of work and activities is much more demonstrative of their capabilities than a standardized test. A series of blog posts is much more demonstrative of their writing and analytical skills than an application essay. Social media posts showing commitment to a club, cause or an activity conveys their actual level of engagement in ways that listing those activities on an application simply cannot.
The surest way to ensure social media will be seen and assessed by admissions officers and by employers is for students to provide a link on their applications and resumes.
Just heed the advice of William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvard University: “If someone sends us a link of any kind, it doesn’t have to be from some company or some organization, if it seems relevant to making the best possible case for that person’s admission, we will certainly take a look at it.”
It is time for social media education to take its rightful place in the high school curriculum. Social media for students is a critical digital life skill. Social Assurity offers a complete program of online education courses that will prepare your students for their future.