By Kim Lifton
Do you wonder what Yale, Cornell and the University of Michigan have to say about social media use by potential students? Are they Googling you? Do admissions officers care what you post on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Alan Katzman, founder and CEO of Social Assurity, says students shouldn’t over-think what they post online, and they should not worry about how admissions officers view it. Rather, he believes students should take control of their social media imprint; being genuine is the first step.
To start, Katzman suggests you ignore mainstream advice suggesting that you should never post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see.
“Teens need to be themselves without any compromise, and their social media activities should genuinely reflect who they are, regardless of whether Grandma approves,” said Katzman, an attorney and human resources executive who founded Social Assurity to help students and their parents proactively address the issues created by adolescent online activities so they can be proud of what others – including admissions officers – might see.
“This advice is about as relevant to a teen as being told to wear the same clothes as their grandmother to avoid standing out in a crowd,” Katzman wrote in his latest blog. “Colleges and universities are not known to be bastions of conservatism, and the thought of having their student body dressed in grandma jeans is anathema to these institutions.”
The issue of social media and its role in college admissions has been getting quite a bit of attention lately following the most recent Kaplan (test prep company) study showing that nearly one in three admissions officers say they check students’ social media postings or Google them when evaluating applications. The figure is higher than the one in five admissions officers who said they checked postings in a similar 2011 study.
We sent emails to a dozen admissions departments over the holiday break to put the Kaplan study into perspective.
Responses were mixed – and quite interesting.
Margit Dahl, Director of Undergraduate Admissions for Yale, said: “We do not have a policy, nor the time to check social media sites. We occasionally Google students to confirm a fact, clarify just what prize they won, that kind of thing. But that’s it.”
FREE Webinar: Who’s Checking You Out Online?
We’ll share more of what we learned during a FREE webinar this Thursday, Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. ET: “Who’s Checking You Out Online? Social Media Smarts for College-Bound Teens,” with special guest Alan Katzman.
You’ll find out what other colleges we surveyed say about social media and admissions. You’ll learn whether you should shut down your social media during the college admissions review period, how to use social media to improve chances of admission to your top choice school, and whether it is a good idea to place all of your social media under an alias.
And, we’ll shed some light on which school may have rejected applicants for the class of 2014 based on information found in a Tweet. Register today to join the conversation!
Kim Lifton is president of Wow Writing Workshop, which teaches high school students how to succeed on the ACT and SAT writing tests, and how to write college application and scholarship essays that stand out. Read Kim’s blogs and get writing tips by signing up for Wow’s newsletter; Wow is on Facebook and Twitter. Check Wow’s calendar for webinars, writing test and online college essay course information. Sign up in advance for one of Wow’s test prep webinars in January, and get a $5 Starbucks card FREE!