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 a 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org). Use either email@example.com or create a user name to highlight a special skill (firstname.lastname@example.org for a high school football kicker looking to stand out, or email@example.com 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.