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Cleaning Up Your Facebook Profile for College Admissions

Jun 13, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

It’s the new reality: college admissions officers are likely to be checking your Facebook page when evaluating you for their programs. So are scholarship administrators, so what you say on Facebook can actually make a difference in the money you receive towards tuition.

If you’re applying to any distance education degree program, it’s important to be aware of the impression you give on your Facebook page—not just to people who know you, but to people who are looking for reasons to narrow their list of qualified applicants. Don’t give them a reason to take you off their list—here are a few tips for cleaning up your Facebook page.

Go through your whole timeline

Facebook Timeline makes it easier for people to search through your entire Facebook history—so that insensitive remark on your timeline from 2003 might still be visible to college admissions staff and scholarship administrators. Go through your entire timeline and search for the red flags.

Student with iPad

Every part of your Facebook profile can be used to build a picture of who you are—either negative or positive.


Know what to eliminate

Speaking of red flags—get rid of anything negative. That can include the obvious things, like provocative images of you or evidence of illegal activities like drinking or drugs. But it also includes any remarks that might be construed as discriminatory or insensitive—or even complaints about homework or a job. A comment that might seem innocuous to you could make the difference as to whether you get a scholarship or admissions—or a disappointing letter in the mail.

Get rid of text speak and fix spelling mistakes. Seriously. Otherwise, your college admissions agent may assume the finely-crafted essay you sent in wasn’t actually written by you.

Be aware of privacy settings

Set your privacy on Facebook so that only friends can view your pictures and timeline. Be aware that your profile pic and cover photo are viewable via outside search—so make sure these are g-rated and present a positive image of you. Bear in mind that if you’re on the short list for a school or scholarship, you may be asked to “like” the organization’s page—which would give administrators access to your Facebook page.

Don’t look like you’re having too good a time

Even if you’re not holding a red cup in that party picture, it may reflect badly on you if your friends are. If you’re doing something silly in a picture—posing with a lampshade on your head, for example—that could lead college admissions officers to infer things that aren’t necessarily true. Go through your photos with a critical eye, and remove or de-tag anything that could conceivably be taken the wrong way.

Clean up your “About” page

Controversial song lyrics in your “favorite quotes” section? Replace them with something more inoffensive. Go through your “About” page and take out anything you might be a bit embarrassed to explain to your grandmother.

Every part of your Facebook profile can be used to build a picture of who you are—either negative or positive. And admissions officers and scholarship officials often have long lists of highly qualified students. When searching Facebook pages, they may be looking for ways to make their jobs easier by making those lists smaller. Don’t give them an excuse to eliminate your candidacy—get rid of anything on your Facebook page that might be even a little controversial.


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