Do's & Don'ts of Social Media

  • Do's & Don'ts of Social Media 

    "College Admissions Officials Turn to Facebook to Research Students"-US News

      • While policies for researching an applicant's social media footprint are not standard yet at most schools, Martha Allman, dean of admissions at Wake Forest University, says that her staff uses Facebook profiles more as a means of introduction rather than investigation. "Some of my staff members will, prior to an admission interview, look at Facebook just to get a sense of who the student is," Allman says. "As far as using it to check up on our applicants, though, we would rarely do that." "I think anything that is in the public domain is fair game for admissions counselors to look at," she says. "Admissions officers are part of the public and, if they choose to research social media, I don't consider that an invasion of privacy."

    "Social Networking and College Admission"- NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counseling)

    • At least one college applicant was denied admission in part because of his blog which included hostile comments about certain college officials, swimmers at Louisiana State University criticized coaches on Facebook and were kicked off the team, the police busted an underage drinking party at George Washington University after they found invitations online.
    • "In terms of college admission, I talk with the students about the importance of projecting a professional impression through voice mail messages, e-mail account titles and social media postings. I tell them a story once told to me by an admission counselor who said a student gave her e-mail address as She didn't get accepted to that college," said Margi Wieber, college counselor, Providence Academy (MN).

    "They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets"- New York Times

    • Of 381 college admissions officers who answered a Kaplan telephone questionnaire this year, 31% said they have visited an applicant's Facebook or other personal social media page to learn more about them, 30% of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant's prospects.
    • Last year, an applicant at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, had posted offensive comments about one of his high school teachers. "we thought, this is not the kind of person we want in our community," Angel B. Perez, Pitzer's dean of admission and financial aid, told me. With about 4,200 applications annually for a first-year class of 250 students, the school can afford to be selective. "we didn't admit the student," Mr. Perez said.
    • "We should be transparent with applicants," says Gary L. Ross, Colgate's dean of admission. He once called a student, to whom Colgate had already offered acceptance, to check whether an alcohol-related incident that was reported online was indeed true. It was, and Colgate rescinded the offer of admission.

    If approached thoughtfully, social networking sites can be another tool to help you get into your top choice colleges. So when it's time to apply for college, give your social networking profiles a second look to make sure you feel comfortable sharing everything you have posted with an admission officer and, later, with potential employers because your site becomes permanent, public information about you.

      • Be safe! Never post personal information such as your address, daily schedule, phone number, etc.
      • Make your profile private so that strangers can't look at your information, and be cautious about adding new friends who you do not personally know.
      • Choose an attractive and professional-looking photo for your profile picture.
      • Take down any questionable photos or exchanges between you and your friends. Give it the "Grandma Test." If you wouldn't want your grandmother to see it, then you don't want other adults to either. Remember, pictures and references of you and your friends' pages can be damaging too. You can ask them to take down this kind of information.
      • Nothing is truly private...ever. While many kids think they can delete a tweet or delete their Facebook profile if need be, many don't realize that content posted on the internet can last forever. Content can be captured in screenshots or saved by other users.
      • Every tweet reflects who you are. If you retweet it (or share it), you own it. What you should post...say thank you, support others, share news and humor, engage in discussion with those you admire, post anything consistent with your personal brand.
      • "Live your life, don't tweet your life."
      • Don't get a false sense of security on social media sites. It's easy for faculty, alumni and random people to get on and look at the information you have posted. Think of it as a free place to promote yourself and increase your chance of acceptance. For example, you can:
        • post pictures that show you doing constructive things (reading to kids, doing volunteer work, restoring a car)
        • post pictures that show you and your friends in a positive light (colleges and employers want applicants with healthy social skills)
        • post travel pictures (those worldly experiences are a plus)
        • join groups that have positive messages (breast cancer awareness, peace not war, and so on)

    Be sure to check out Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Instagram accounts for colleges you are interested in to get another perspective of what life might be like at that college or university.