How Social Media Affects Your College Application
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Social media sites have become a big part of everyone’s life. Major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram now serve as favorite hangouts — in most cases replacing actual places like parks or clubs. This is particularly true among teenagers who use various social sites not only as a communication tool but a way to share their photos and life experiences.

As a result, colleges and universities are tapping into social media when choosing college applicants. The latest studies show that more than 30% of all admissions officers now use social sites to check on profiles and decide if a college applicant would be admitted or denied enrollment.

With this in mind, prospective college applicants should be aware of what they post and share in social media. The reasons are not as clear-cut as whether a prospective student has a clean or questionable personality. Sure, having a virtuous image online helps in a big way, but colleges would want to know more if an applicant, once admitted, would stay in school and finish the course and if one would be a good fit for the institution’s culture and environment.

Graduation Rating and Economics

There was a time when higher education institutions put much weight on standardized test scores for their admissions process. Today, however, big data analysis have also come into play. For this technique to work, data and information about an applicant must first be gathered. That’s where social media enters the picture. Apparently, the number of photos and the kind of status updates that one shares in social sites can help colleges predict the likelihood that a student will stick around and graduate.

Now, why would an institution bother to forecast a student’s likelihood of completing the course? Some admissions officers claim that when a student fails to finish a program, the class and, ultimately, the institution sustain some form of disruption or stain in terms of reputation.

In other words, students who fail to graduate can pull down the graduation ratings of the institution. This can have some serious repercussions on a college or university. Regulators and financial rating agencies categorize schools based on how they appeal to prospective students and how they steer students up until they finish their courses. If there are more students who graduate, the school gets a higher graduation rating. This means better financial rating for the school, which in turn results to lower interest rates and payments. Therefore, a high graduation rating means more cash for the institution. Really, everything boils down to economics and the reputation of the university.

The Usual Suspects

The techniques used in big data analysis are no doubt sophisticated. Apart from high school grades and test scores, higher education schools are interested in factors that include the applicant’s gender, ethnicity, race, and personal behavior. In addition to application forms, colleges will use social media data to gather as much information as they can about prospective students.

Over the years, certain social media personality types have become the usual suspects when it comes to being rejected by colleges and universities. As a college applicant, you might want to avoid being one of these personalities. Here are three types of bad social media users and how their personalities affect their college application.

  1. The Compulsive Trash Peddler
    This type of social media user posts anything that comes to mind, even bad language and photos or words that are not interesting. This type of personality does not think much about what to share online.If you use social sites this way, you can bet that your college application will be rejected. Colleges want students who exhibit substance, so to speak. A compulsive social media user has a big chance not finishing a college program.
  1. The Attention Seeker
    Unfortunately, this personality is very typical among teenagers. Unlike the compulsive user described above, this one actually thinks before hitting the post or share button, albeit with one goal – to become more popular. Everything that this person does is geared towards getting other people’s attention.Being an attention seeker in social media can be a problem for college applicants because there’s a big chance that the things being shared online are not even real. On top of that, being superficial tends to run contrary to the personality of someone who’s serious about reaching academic goals.
  1. The Big Show-off
    This social media user loves to boast and post about achievements and all the good things in life. Well, this person may not be lying at all, but whoever wants to deal with a show-off? Certainly not the admissions officer!But the real problem with a person who loves to brag is that the truth is often stretched too far. Meaning, this type of person may not have that much credibility. It’s no surprise that social media loudmouths have a higher chance of being denied admission in colleges.

Can You Make the Bad Things Disappear?

Now that colleges increasingly use social media to approve or reject a prospective student, is it possible for a teenager who used to post controversial words and photos in social media to start with a clean slate?

The short answer is it’s next to impossible. Sadly, one’s skeletons in the social media closet are bound to be shown out to the world. Data capture applications ensure that all the information shared online will, at the very least, last for a very long time. Even if deleting one’s activities online were possible, it would take a very talented hacker to expunge your digital records. And like all things on the Internet, someone or some institution is bound to find out the truth about you sooner or later.

What Can a College Applicant Do?

From the start, teenagers should be responsible social media users. Instead of posting nonsense on social sites, you should use these platforms to establish your online reputation. Use your profiles to link up with various colleges and universities. This will show them that you have the characteristics that they want.

Don’t forget to be consistent when showing your personality and telling your story in all your social media accounts. Being consistent means you are a credible person who has a good chance of staying in school and graduating from your chosen program.

Managing Online Reputation

Teenagers should learn how to see themselves as brands. By doing so, they will be better at optimizing their social media profiles. Like the big company brands, any future college applicant must work to ensure that anything they share online will add value to their reputation.

The good news is there are many tools that can help in managing one’s online reputation. Such tools allow you to see where you stand in your social media presence and how you can enhance or improve your personal message to your peers, to the admissions officer, and soon to your future employer.


Teenagers who dream about going to college and earning a degree should know that schools are looking at social media profiles to decide on who’s going to be admitted into a program. As a prospective student, your posts in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites can affect your college application because they tell a lot about how interested you are in your studies and how likely are you to finish your course.

It is important that applicants present themselves online in the best way possible. Irresponsible use of social sites can result to rejection from colleges.