Social media is a double-edged sword. It gives you the chance to express yourself, make connections with people you otherwise would never know, and keep in touch with friends that live far away. But unfortunately, those who are looking to find out more about who you are — in the case of this article, colleges — can use it to find out things you might not want them to know and they might not like. This can cause severe harm to your entire academic career — a college can be impressed by your admissions letter, your GPA, and your SAT scores, but turn you down based on a single tweet or Facebook update that they find distasteful (for example, many a student who would otherwise be accepted into a college have been turned down for foolishly posting pictures of themselves drinking on their Facebook).
One needs to be aware that many colleges (especially the prestigious ones) DO keep track of your social media activity. Though admission officers that do this are not as numerous as one might think — thankfully for those who openly express their opinions (some of which might be controversial) and write about all their day-to-day goings-on, (some of which might not reflect well on one’s personality), some admissions officers do feel that such things should not be taken into account. But there are some admissions officer who think otherwise, and the amount of them that do has risen in recent years, according to a recent Kaplan Study. These admissions officers might be impressed by your GPA or SAT scores, but might not want someone who seems to be, based on their social media activity, a habitual drunkard as a member of their student body. This might seem a violation of your privacy, but they do have the right to take things you’ve posted publicly on the Internet into account and will take advantage of that right.
Therefore, those who are aiming to get into the college of their choice and frequently use social media need to be vigilant. Thankfully, both Facebook and Twitter have extensive privacy settings that can block certain updates or tweets from being seen by just anyone. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of not taking advantage of these options, and let embarrassing things they’ve posted on these sites dash their hopes of getting into the college of their choice.
So, some final advice to those in the process of applying to various colleges: if you are going to post things on social media that you wouldn’t an admissions officer to read, keep your profile or account private; and if you want to keep your social media presence public, think before you post or tweet anything that might be deemed controversial. Social media can be fun, but it also can be a liability — keep that in mind.