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5 Tips to prepare your social media before applying to university in the US

Guest post by: Rep'nUp

“Are you a bird watcher? Are you an artist? Are you a musician? An athlete? All of those things you can showcase online. You can show what your passion is and let that shine through.” Gina Carrol, blogger and author.

In her podcast, 24 Things You can Do with Social Media to Get into College, Carroll talks to young American students about their online social media reputation and the importance of that image to college admissions.

With colleges becoming increasingly selective, more admissions officers are turning to social media to gain further insight into their applicants. In a television interview with Mass Appeal on NBC, Paul Hemphill, author of Planning for College, states that colleges are interested in social networks because they answer the question “who are you?” Hemphill comments that college applications can easily be forged to create a perfect impression, while social media sites are more likely to reveal the student’s true persona.

Many agencies have reported on the importance of social media and college admissions including Forbes, IvyWise and The New York Times. A survey conducted by Cornerstone Reputation in 2014 found that 40% of admissions officers searched applicants online. A subsequent 2015 survey of college athletic coaches reported that 83% reviewed social media profiles of prospective athletes.  Studies also show, that what is being found online can hurt your chances of acceptance. A survey from Kaplan Test Prep in 2013 indicated that 30% of admission recruiters who used Facebook to review an applicant found content that negatively impacted the student’s application.

Given these facts, it is important to prepare your social media profiles before you apply to an American college. Use these simple tips to can ensure your online reputation represents the best of you.

1. Have a presence. In the US today, not belonging to a social network says a lot about you. According to this survey from CareerBuilder, 35% of employers are less likely to grant an interview to an applicant who doesn’t appear online. Hemphill states in his interview “If they can’t find you on Facebook they’re going to decide you have something to hide.” If recruiters can’t find you online, they may conclude that you are socially unaware, or worse, are deliberately concealing your profile to hide inappropriate content. Furthermore, not having an account leads you to miss out on the opportunity to create a relationship with your prospective schools. Having an online presence allows admissions officers to put a face to a name, learn more about you, and relate to you on a more personal level. 

2. Delete inappropriate material. As was stated previously, 30% of admissions officers found material that negatively impacted an applicant’s acceptance. It is imperative that you carefully review your online history for inappropriate content. Remember that every culture is different, and when going to America you have to adjust to their customs. For example, alcohol, which is not considered offensive in Europe, is regarded as particularly inappropriate in America. Make sure to remove images on your profile of underage drinking, partying, smoking, drugs, explicit content, etc. As Carroll says in her podcast “If you have 1200 pictures and 699 are you at a party, what does that say about your priority with regard to your time?”  Also, be sure to review old posts and status updates that may include swear words, racist remarks, or angry rants. Remember that what happens on Facebook stays on Facebook, forever. You can use free applications like Rep’nUp to easily clean up your social networking sites.

3. Showcase your personality. Shape your online presence to highlight your personality and individuality. Post things that humanize you so the university can get to know you. Colleges want to see that you are close with your family, have interesting hobbies, and are overall a well-rounded individual. Since colleges use Facebook to verify your resume, make sure your online presence reinforces your hobbies and interests expressed in your application. If you wrote that you are passionate about science, make sure to follow scientists that inspire you.  Hemphill suggests putting up photos of projects or trips you’ve participated in and what you’ve learned from them.  Also be sure to review your old Liked pages. Since pages don’t have a date it’s not clear which pages you may have liked ten years ago in high school, and which pages reflect who you are today.

4. Use timeline review. While it’s important to monitor what you post, don’t let your profile be tarnished by that careless friend with less than ideal judgement. Your social media image can easily be ruined by someone tagging you in a photo or posting on your wall. To prevent this, check out Facebook’s Timeline review tool that allows you to control what others post on your wall to help maintain your positive image.

5. Take action. Now that you have the perfect online presence that presents you as the impeccable and impressive individual that you are– get out there and use it to your advantage. Carroll suggests virtually interacting with your perspective schools “early and often.” She advises to register on their websites sites and follow them on social media even before applying to get on their radar. Consistently engaging with a college is a way to demonstrate your interest in the school, which is vital to them believing they are your priority. Schools don’t want to be your fallback option; they want to know that if they offer you an acceptance, you will take it. This article from PBS states that some universities use data analysis algorithms on your social media profiles to determine if you are worth investing in. Schools don’t want to invest in you if it is likely that you won’t make it to graduation.

Social media in the United States can play a large role in college admissions. By following these simple tips to adjustyour social media accounts you can ensure your online perception is maximized for the American admission process.

Rep’nUp is a social media reputation management service that helps a user clean up their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. This free application uses world class image processing algorithms to scan a user’s profile and identify potentially harmful photos and posts, allowing the user to better manage their online reputation. Check it out here at


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