Even though we all know that your mom, teacher or potential employer check out your Social Media profiles, still many naïve (to put it nicely) folks end up posting drunk pics or racial jokes on their Facebook walls. Why do it to yourself? Today we would like to discuss how your social and professional image is affected by your online profile; and what you should do to improve it.

Admission officers check online profiles of college applicants

Why? Because many kids want to study in a good college and most of them happen to have a FB page. And also because an experienced and curious admission officer can learn a lot from one`s profile. Admission officers can learn what you are interested in, how you like spending free time and … simply assess your intelligence level. According to Kaplan Test Prep survey, there is a trend among officers to screen college applicants on Facebook. Each year more schools turn to Social Media for some answers regarding their potential students. In 2012 over 25% of the surveyed University officials admitted of checking Facebook (Kaplan, 2012). This number is probably an underestimate and the real figure is even more impressive.

Nowadays admission offices went facebooking themselves – openly or undercover. Be sure they are going to check you out.

admission officer

What exactly are the red flags people pay attention to?

There is no simple answer to this question. First of all you have to understand what kind of student is your school looking for. Smart? Yes! Hardworking? Yes. Sane? Oh, yes. Social and active? Yes! Party animal? Let`s keep this one to ourselves and not share it with the admission officers.

Many students claim that US colleges go an extra (half-legal) mile to obtain information about applicants. They would use the email to trace your activity on the internet (FB, Twitter, Youtube, Forums, etc.). While there is also rumor that some schools request a full access to student`s Facebook profiles. No need to be paranoid and look for global conspiracy`s. However it is wise to prepare your online image for the worst case scenario – full exposure.

You want to show through your profile that you are social and outgoing. Therefor it would be smart to have the profile at first place – not having it is kind of suspicious by itself. Having friends would demonstrate that you are social, will be an active member of the college community.

What you should NEVER do is:

  • - make any unprofessional comments/posts (drunk pictures, extreme/extremists posts or jokes);
  • - talk about you or your friends engaging into illegal activities;
  • - bullying/threatening people;
  • - using offensive language.

online profile

What should you do maintain admission-friendly online profile?

As we have already discussed – it is better to have it at first place. Common sense suggests that you should combine three approaches:

  • - Google yourself;
  • - clean up your FB (Twitter, etc.) posts AND pictures;
  • - take advantage of the privacy settings. Make sure that your pictures and comments are visible only to your friends.

Googling your name is always handy because it gives you an overview of the situation: do any funny pictures pop up if you look through Google images? Does your name appear connected to any strange business or page? It`s a handy thing to do before college application, during your student years, before the job interview or even before a date. People are curious and they have a powerful tool to satisfy their curiosity. Be one step ahead.

My last advice would be to rely more on the content of your profile than on privacy settings. And some good news: once you`ve done your Social Media profile homework you are prepared for the next step in your life – work and career. Whether or not the admission officer will have time to google you, the recruiter definitely will ;-)

google yourself