How Colleges Use Kids’ Social Media Feeds
College admissions officers now have another trick up their sleeves when it comes to admitting students to their institutions: the use of social media. That is, checking in on the social media used by prospective students. Because social media is so much a part of youth these days, student behaviors and beliefs are virtually on display for people to see and, ultimately, judge. However, some colleges only view a student’s social media site if it is included in his or her application. Regardless, if viewed, here are three ways in which colleges may choose to use social media to help determine who gets in, and who does not.
Many college admissions officers will tell you that admitting well-rounded and active students is at the top of their to-do list. Students, for example, who are active in their communities, and whose activity is reflected on their social media sites, may pique the interest of one of their desired colleges. This does not mean, though, that students who are not heavily involved in their communities will not be admitted. In fact, being well-rounded can also mean being active within their social circle, along with upholding their academic expectations.
Students should beware, however, of posting pictures of or comments on social activities that depict illegal, disturbing, or disruptive behavior. This can be a red flag to colleges and make them more hesitant to admit, or cause them to immediately dismiss, the student who posted it, or the student who happens to be tagged in the post, depending on which one has applied to the school. Rather, colleges want to see students who are enjoying life, and more so who are contributing positively to others’ lives, but not causing problems for those around them.
Further, because colleges know that social media is important to prospective students, they will often try and use it as a way to reach out and communicate with applicants. This may include sharing photographs or event schedules to let future students know what life is like on campus. Colleges may also use social media as a way to share experiences of current students. The more a college can build relationships with students, the more they can develop trust, open communication, and a sense of freedom of expression. These relationships may even last into a student’s alumni years.
Putting Our Best Foot Forward
Whether we like to admit it or not, social media has become an important and often strategic form of communication. As a result, colleges, and more specifically college admissions offices, have learned to capitalize on this digital dialogue. It seems, then, that it is in the best interest of both students and institutions to use social media as an authentic representation of who they are, in a way that secures a positive and enlightening future for themselves and those whose lives they impact. For students, this means showing institutions that they plan on contributing to society in a meaningful way, while for colleges, they must prove to students that they have their best interests and future in mind.