Tweeting Your Way to College Acceptance

How your online identity could make or break your future.

The college admissions process is like sending a friend request to your school of choice—and in this scenario, the way you maintain your Facebook, and even your Twitter, could matter just as much.

A Kaplan survey indicated that more than 80 percent of college admissions offices will reach out to and recruit students on Facebook— which means the people who are holding the keys to your academic future could be browsing your page. So just as you would for your applications and essays, it’s vital that you make social network edits.

First, you’ll need to clean up. Carefully comb your page, and if something appears questionable, get rid of it or untag yourself. Filter through old notes and blogs and trim entries that don’t reflect well on you. Does your “About Me” section express the interests of a potential college student, or of a silly high schooler?

Now, make some positive changes to your online image. Your profile picture is the most visible part of your account. Choose an image that best personifies who you are (or how you’d like to be perceived). It doesn’t need to be a headshot, but it should be an appropriate image that would appeal to an admissions office. They aren’t looking for more students to party hard or fail classes—they are looking for vibrant students who will excel.

You should also monitor your friends’ activity on your page. Just as your relationships reflect who you are, their comments, photos and tags play a part in your overall virtual impression on others. Delete or block friends who frequently make inappropriate remarks. Change your privacy settings so you have to approve Twitter followers or picture tags.

Finally, play the part of the prospective student. “Like” the universities you are interested in and interact with their online community. If you have an online portfolio, blog or résumé, add its link to your info. It won’t be long before that little “Education” box sees some big changes.

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