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Yes, colleges look at your social media!

You’ve spent months painstakingly preparing and perfecting your college applications. You’ve submitted your grades, essays, activities, and an overall picture of your “best self” to the admissions team. You now enter the waiting period as colleges review your materials and make their decisions.

What you may not realize is that admissions officers are not just looking at the material on your official application. Oftentimes, they review the content posted on your social media accounts.

According to a Kaplan Test survey that polled nearly 300 college admissions officers, 36% of them looked at applicants’ social media profiles on Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn to learn more about the applicant.

Social media posts can impact college decisions

What students post on social media can affect not only acceptance odds, but can get acceptances revoked if the material is offensive. For example, in 2017, Harvard University withdrew admissions offers to at least 10 students who had traded sexually and racially charged memes in a private Facebook group. The name of the group was “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens,” according to the student paper, the Harvard Crimson. The messages traded by students in the group made fun of sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to the Crimson.

Harvard also pulled the offer for Kyle Kashuv, a conservative activist and survivor of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., when it became clear that he had sent racist Tweets.

Even if your social media accounts are private, be vigilant. Your followers can still share and save your posts simply by taking a screenshot. In our highly competitive college admissions atmosphere, selective colleges may look at social media for any data that may tip the scales in someone’s favor.

Using social media to bolster your application

Many high school students believe that the best thing they can do is clean up their online accounts. They may spend hours combing through and deleting questionable comments, images, posts, and tags. While this purging step is important, it is equally critical to construct a positive online persona.

First, it is helpful to do check-ins and post items that corroborate the information in your application. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other outlets can provide the compelling visual support that mere words in a resume or essay cannot. Whenever possible, add relevant and concise hashtags to your posts so that they turn up more in search results.

If you are a musician or an actor, for instance, consider posting pictures of your performances. If you are an athlete, upload a video of yourself performing well during a game. If you do volunteer work, share something that shows you working in that capacity. Doing so lends credence and weight to your application.

Even frequently overlooked factors, such as proper grammar and inclusive language, can reflect well on your application.

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