Look Good on Social Media—and for College Admissions

January 13, 2016
Kaplan Test Prep


Don’t let your social media habits stand in the way of your college admissions.

As you prep for college, admissions officers are watching. According to a 2015 Kaplan Test Prep survey, 40% of college admissions officers browse social media profiles to learn more about admissions candidates*. That means it’s pretty likely that decision-makers at colleges and scholarship-granting organizations are taking a peek at your profiles.

Some students take control by shutting down Facebook, Twitter—everything—entirely. Some try hiding their online identities. You can, however, continue to be yourself on social media with just a few extra filters.

Here are the top five things you should ask yourself before you post:

  • Does this post make me look like college material? When a college admissions officer or the Kiwanis Club’s scholarship committee reads your status update, is it a positive reflection on you? Make sure you are appropriately attired in all your pics and that you come across as level-headed in your posts. Maintain A+ spelling and grammar, and if you express an opinion, make sure it’s one that can be backed up with sound facts and intelligent analysis.
  • Would I say this on television? You are, in effect, broadcasting your personality on your social media accounts, so watch the language, seal up the mug shots, and mind your manners. Period. About the worst thing you can do on social media on your path to college is trash talk a school you’ve attended, a school you want to go to, your teachers, or your boss. Admissions officers consider these comments a red flag.
  • Does this post court excessive commenting? Rethink posts that are likely to trigger a barrage of crazy or controversial comments that you’ll have to edit out of your timeline. There are much better ways to spend your time—like building your LinkedIn profile.
  • Is this funny? Is it offensive? Does it require too much explanation? What’s funny to one person can rub someone else the wrong way. If you think you’re going to have to explain or defend your post, it’s probably best to pass. Furthermore, a vague or potentially offensive post runs the risk of triggering that onslaught of comments you just tried to avoid—comments that are all but guaranteed to further obscure your meaning or end up putting words in your mouth.
  • Does everyone need to read this? If the answer is no, don’t post. It’s fine to share personal news, but choose your words carefully. What might be intended as inspirational can be interpreted as bragging, especially if you’re posting about your high school accomplishments. One great alternative way to share positive news on social media is by expressing your support for an important organization or social cause. Keep friends looped in on this kind of info and give them a chance to get involved in positive ways that also make them look good to college admissions officers.


Now that you know what to do for your own online presence, figure out how to best vet your prospective schools on theirs.

*For the 2015 survey, 387 admissions officers from the nation’s top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities – as compiled from U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between July and August 2015.

Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep

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