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Is Your Facebook Profile Hurting Your Chances of Getting Into College?

Dec 9, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Getting into college isn’t easy. Schools are becoming more selective, and with more and more students putting their lives online, it’s easy for admissions officers to find out more about you by doing a simple Google search than you’d ever expect them to. Admissions officers do use social media to find out more about applicants—and to find reasons to winnow down their lists.

Everyone knows not to put up pictures of themselves partying or post racial slurs or other offensive content on their Facebook pages—but there are a few other things you could be doing to harm your college admissions application that might surprise you. Here are a few things to avoid.

Mentions of your favorite college

Every college wants to think they’re your first choice. You might be hoping for an acceptance letter for one particular college—but you definitely want your second, third, and fourth choices to think they’re your dream school as well. So don’t put posts up on your wall that you just submitted to a certain school—and you’re crossing your fingers. Stay away from any posts that could indicate a specific school is your favorite and alienate the others.

Posts you make on other people’s walls

You know not to post dirty jokes or other questionable materials on your own wall. But it’s possible admissions officers could see posts you made on friends’ walls, as well. Consider everything you put up online carefully if it has your name attached or it’s attached to an account that’s linked to you—even if it’s not specifically on your page or wall.

Anything that contradicts the image in your admissions materials.

You’re presenting yourself as a serious, studious leader. So avoid putting up silly videos that cast you in a less-than-serious light. You don’t want admissions officers to wonder who you are—you want them to feel like they know and understand you through your admissions materials. Don’t give them cause to question the image of yourself that you’ve drawn.

Embarrassing pictures your friends tag you in

Obviously, you shouldn’t put up pictures of yourself doing illegal things—even if they seem relatively harmless—or any pictures that present you in a less than flattering light. But you don’t always have control over what your friends post and tag you in. Be sure to check and make sure nobody’s tagged you in any embarrassing pictures lately—and if there are any, be sure to untag them.

Anything less than friendly

Obviously, it’s a bad idea to put up any obviously negative posts that could be construed as racist, sexist, or targeting a particular group of people for abuse. But be aware of posts that seem more harmless—including anything negative or complaining, even if you’re trying to be funny. College admissions counselors want to choose students who would make good roommates, good classmates, and offer a positive presence on campus. You should definitely try to avoid posting anything too abrasive or negative.

Admissions counselors at many traditional and accredited online colleges don’t have the time to check through every applicant’s social media history. However, some do use it to narrow down lists at selective colleges—and you don’t want your Facebook page to be the reason you weren’t offered a place. Go through your social media presence, including your Facebook wall, and take off anything inflammatory or negative, any mentions of a specific school that excludes others you’re applying to, or anything that could contradict the image you’re trying to build in your admissions materials. If you do, it may not get you a place in the next year’s class—but at least you’ll know it won’t be the cause of rejection.


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