social media

Social Media Hygiene

            The concept of a “Finstagram”, or just “finsta”, has existed for years. This is an alternative social media account (mostly Instagram) that you share with just your close friends. This account has your wild party nights, your bad jokes, and your videos of something very embarrassing you’ve done.

            Parallel to this Finstagram account, many people have a more professional Instagram account where they absolve themselves from suspicion. This account has pictures of your pets, your iced coffees, and videos of you and your friends doing things you wouldn’t mind showing your parents.

            Many, many people have a double identity on social media like this. It’s a normalized practice that prevents a lot of quiet, awkward family dinners. While this trick might fool your parents who can’t work the microwave without your help, it won’t fool college admissions officers.

Admissions officers at most colleges check the social media accounts of applicants, and google local news to see if an applicant has gotten into any major trouble they should know about[1]. If you post something publicly, even on an alternate account, there’s a chance that the colleges that you are applying to can find out about it.

Even if you make a post private, anything with your face on it that is reposted or shared publicly by anyone elsemay be visible to everyone and anyone on the internet, including college admissions officers..

It’s hard to speak definitively when it comes to social media. Most colleges, statistically, don’t have time or resources to check every applicant’s social media. Despite this, it’s important to make sure your potentially amazing application isn’t nullified by one picture or video of you doing something that’ll get you in trouble.

Social media hygiene isn’t just about staying out of trouble, though. During applications, many students and parents partake in the “humble brag”, which entails showing off the amazing things the student is doing, but in an offhand way.

For example, if a student posts that they are touring Princeton University, they are showing the whole world that Princeton is an option for them, which may be interpreted as a grand display of ability and wealth.

While this may not be a deal-breaker for many colleges, as the admissions process is generally not a judgement of character or likability, some colleges will frown upon applicants that brag about their options, and others may not believe you’re really interested in going to their school if you don’t post about them specifically. Bragging can only harm your application.

Don’t let all of these warnings discourage you from using social media entirely. If you want to give your college application some extra merit, you should use your social media platform to enhance your personal narrative.

What your social media presence should focus on is showing everyone, especially colleges, who you are. You’re amazing, and not all of that amazingness can fit into your college application. Social media can cover the difference and show off what your application couldn’t include.

An application typically focuses on two or three themes and doesn’t have much room for more. Social media lets you show off your interests and hobbies outside of that rigid narrative. Do you bake? Do you enjoy photography? Did you build something cool in Robotics Club? Let everyone know!

Colleges are looking for individuals, not just good students. If you show people that you’re a complex person with many interests, that will only help your college application!

A college application is, in part, a first impression. Colleges want great students, but they prefer great students with interests outside the classroom. Students with interests enrich the community and start clubs, while students without interests stay in their room, sometimes only venturing out for parties.

Colleges also view political activism positively. In today’s political climate, where many discussions devolve into arguments or bigotry, colleges find it refreshing and impressive if you can be a part of the political discourse without being violent or extreme.

Colleges have even shown support for applicants who have gotten in some trouble for being politically active. If you support a just cause, like protecting a minority group from bullying, but your high school suspends you, colleges, in most cases, will side with you, not the high school.

Social media should show your passions and interests, and if you are passionate about a current political issue, show off your activism on social media, so long as it doesn’t put others down.

No matter who you are, if you have passions, show them off on social media! So long as you do this instead of getting in online trouble, your social media presence is sure to give your application a boost.

[1] Do College Admissions Officers Actually Check Applicants’ Social Media Accounts? by Emily Burack

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