Social Media and Your College Search
Almost every college is building virtual communities through social media. As you conduct your search, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with the school, admissions counselors, prospective and current students, even alumni. You can follow colleges on social media to learn about campus life, take virtual tours and, ultimately, help you decide if the college is the right fit for you. Let’s consider some of the most popular social network platforms and how to use each of them:
Start by “liking” the college’s page, and you’ll get a sense of the personality of the school, what conversations are important, and the hot topics on campus. More importantly, use the information you learn about the college during your interview, or in your essay-admissions counselors appreciate that you’ve taken the time to find out all you can about the school. Beyond the school’s official Facebook page, look to see if there are groups that correspond to your special interests or if you can ask questions of admissions counselors.
Follow your prospective college on Twitter to discover everything from what lectures and events are happening to what’s being served in the dining hall that week. You’ll also learn news about what current alumni are doing and what issues are important, whether it’s sports, the environment, social change or new classes.
You can watch convocation speeches, take virtual tours, hear guest lectures, and listen to the school’s singing group perform. It’s a great way to see how active the campus life is, and if this seems like a place where you would happily fit in.
Instagram is a web of visual information and a great source of what student life really looks like on and around campus. Start by following the school’s official page and their hashtag. Most of the time you’ll get a holistic view of what it’s really like to attend a school just from those two resources. If you’re interested in specific clubs or groups, they are bound to have an Instagram page of their own. One easy way to source their username is to search through the list of accounts following the school’s official page. Don’t forget to explore the comments section under some posts that relate to activities and events around the campus. They’re like mini-reviews of what the experience or vibe is like. For students interested in a school’s setting follow the city where the school is located hashtag.
We encourage every college freshman to create a LinkedIn profile. It’s like Facebook, but for business professionals. We have a few guides on the importance of LinkedIn and how it’s a great tool for students to use when starting their careers you can explore here. Apart from LinkedIn being the place to find internships and post-graduate opportunities it’s the best place to connect with current students, alumni, and professors. Networking using social media platforms like LinkedIn is essential to getting unbiased information about specific programs, college resources, and offerings. By direct messaging people of different associations to the schools you’re interested in you get a clearer idea of the school’s mission and potential successful outcomes.
Flickr, Tumblr, and Pinterest
A picture really is worth a thousand words. Take a look at these image sites, and you’ll find everything from ideas for decorating dorm rooms to student life to campus buildings.
A growing number of colleges are using Foursquare, the location-based social app, to allow students to give themselves self-guided campus tours and get tips and history about buildings and locations.
This can be a great way to learn about and connect with current students. Hear what they are going through, their likes and dislikes and opportunities they are getting there. Feel free to stop by the comment section and ask a question or two.
Social Media Tips for Students
Just as employers often check a job applicant’s online presence, college admissions officers often take a closer look at their candidates. Use common sense, and don’t post anything that might give a negative impression in your language, photos or images. Set up your privacy settings to restrict access; that includes protecting your tweets and if there are YouTube videos you wouldn’t want to be seen, set those to private as well.
Make sure your email address is professional (not email@example.com). Use either firstname.lastname@example.org or create a user name to highlight a special skill (email@example.com for a high school football kicker looking to stand out, or firstname.lastname@example.org for a pianist.
Use your social media presence to highlight your achievements, share your volunteer work, and create your “brand” that will showcase you in your very best light. Create a video of your soccer goals, start a blog of your creative writing, or set up a Pinterest account to “pin” your artwork. The Common Application and the Universal College Application both have places to link to a site. Make the most of social media, both in your search and the application process, to find the college that’s your best fit.