Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat have become a part of
our daily lives. On average, members of Gen Z spend 4.5 hours a day on social media,
compared with the 3.8 hours spent per day by Millennials. Unsurprisingly, the rise
of social media usage has been accompanied by a rise in controversy surrounding individual
social media posts.
While the college admission process rarely includes a review of an applicant’s social
media, it is important for high schoolers to be conscientious about what they share
online, especially while preparing to apply to college. When a university representative
is reviewing applications, he or she is looking for students who are academically
qualified and prepared for college and for students that would be a great fit for
the university community.
Regarding the latter, students should ensure they are presenting themselves well,
especially on social media. Below are some tips on how to present yourself well online
while navigating the college admission process.
Deciding What to Post
What you post on social media is a representation of who you are. Consider your individual
values in deciding what to post. Ask yourself, “Does this statement represent me the
way I want to be represented?” As a silly example, you may value reading, but posting
“I hate reading— reading is boring” would not align with that value. In some instances,
your online presence may be someone’s first impression of you, so you want to be sure
that you are representing your true self there.
Understanding your individual values and how to represent yourself takes practice
and is not necessarily an easy task for someone managing an already high-stress time
in their life. A few other questions you might want to ask yourself before posting
- Would I want my *grandparent, teacher, role model, pastor.* to see this post?
- Does this post cause any harm to a person or group of people?
- Is anything in the background or foreground of this post illegal or misrepresent my
- Is this post’s content insensitive toward anyone’s lived experience?
Allow the answers to these questions guide you in deciding whether a particular post
will be a representation of your best and true self.
Understanding Social Media Privacy
Social media platforms do a good job of creating a perception that what a person posts
is “private.” With private accounts, features like close friends, and alternative
accounts, people often have the idea that their presence online is private and only
available to a select few.
While a private account may protect someone’s identity, that doesn’t mean that things
posted to the account cannot end up elsewhere. Regardless of your personal privacy
settings, you should be cautious about anything and everything that is associated
with you and posted online.
Social Media’s Role in College Admission
A university representative will not look at your personal social media accounts in
connection with your application, but that doesn’t mean your online presence cannot
impact the admission process. As mentioned earlier, it is important that a university
has no concerns about a student joining the school’s community.
Just as students have values to uphold, universities have values and community standards.
Ensuring that you are putting your best foot forward, whether in your application
essay or on your Instagram account, is the best thing you can do to prepare for college!