Using Social Media to Improve Admissions Odds

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The terms “College Admissions” and “Social Media” are typically linked for one threatening reason: be careful what you post, because colleges may be watching you. But if colleges are watching you, doesn’t that represent an opportunity? Instead of worrying about the negative, why not create content, and engage across social media, that could actually improve your acceptance chances?

That was the idea presented in a recent webinar sponsored by the California Learning Strategies Center. Rose Hayden-Smith of the University of California, who consults with parents about using social media to help their children in the application process, presented Using Social Media to Improve Admissions Odds, Hayden-Smith provides a unique take on positive brand building and demonstrated interest through social media. She noted that admissions officers, recruiters, colleges, and academic departments within schools can be found on Twitter and Facebook—not trolling for negative information on applicants, but as users who provide information and reach out to audiences including applicants. Why not, she suggested, follow them, like their pages, and engage with them? This kind of interaction could be used to enhance your application as you share (in a respectful, dignified manner) videos of a performance, a picture of yourself wearing the school sweatshirt, or a link your website. The possibilities are limitless, and it’s a way to use your time on social media to your advantage.

But, she warned, you’ve got to keep it positive. Brand building, whether through your Facebook posts, tweets, and/or a WordPress site, involves presenting a consistent, accurate story about who you are, what you’re doing, and where your interests lie.  Instead of simply listing community service projects on your application, your Facebook page could bring that work to life by including pictures of your activities, feedback from those you’ve worked with, and even newspaper clippings or other media mentions. This kind of branding, said Hayden-Smith, teaches students effective social skills; articulates values, expertise, talents, and goals; and keeps them accountable. It can also be useful during and after college to secure internship and employment opportunities.  

To learn more, she suggests reading The Pew Research Center’s report on Teens, Social Media, and Privacy; the NACAC’s paper Reaching the Wired Generation: How Social Media is Changing College Admission; and “When Colleges Woo Students Through Social Media: Less Viewbooks, More Facebook,” an article in Time magazine. You can also listen to the webinar here.