Advising 101: How Building a Positive Online Presence Can Impact College Admissions

Recent studies show that between 35 and 50 percent of admissions officers are viewing students’ social media profiles. This doesn’t mean they are looking for anything embarrassing or inappropriate, but it does mean they are using it as one way of gathering more information about applicants.

When we talk about a student’s online presence, much of what is discussed centers around the negative: what not to post and what behaviors to steer clear of, not to mention cautionary tales of Harvard rescinding acceptance offers. Although offering tips about what not to do on social media can help students better understand the ways in which their online and IRL lives are very much intertwined, Green Ivy also wanted to provide some ideas about how best to build a positive online presence.

Since more and more colleges are using social media not only to engage and attract potential students but also as a tool to research applicants, here are some ways for students to get noticed online that could prove fruitful in the admissions process:

Create a LinkedIn profile. Most students think of LinkedIn as a platform for job seekers, but it can also be used to showcase your activities and volunteer efforts, or your job experience, if applicable. Since there is limited space on the Common Application to expand on your activities, using LinkedIn to detail specific leadership positions or special skills, can give admissions officers a clearer sense of who you are. It also gives you a chance to create a resume and  present yourself in a professional light.

Use Instagram and YouTube to gather a portfolio of your creative work. If you have an artistic bent, whether it be drawing, photography, sculpture, music, or moviemaking, pulling together your best pieces or clips online can be a fantastic way to showcase your talents. Most schools use Slideroom on the Common Application for the submission of official portfolios, but using these alternative tools can highlight a hobby or additional works of art that you would like admissions officers to see.

Put together a personal website. It is fairly simple to put together a website quickly and inexpensively by using popular service providers such as Wix or Squarespace. A personal site can be used as a one-stop shop to display a range of student activities, such as job experience, volunteer work, visual art portfolios, music or video clips, and creative writing.

Design a ZeeMee profile. This free app, billed as the “community for colleges and students to connect,” gives you a way to research universities you are interested in and to show schools what you are all about. Students can use short videos to fully express themselves in their applications, along with pictures and biographical details. In addition, students can connect with other students through ZeeMee’s college communities before they arrive on a campus.

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