A Guide To Sweeping Your Social Media Profiles Before College

If you, or someone you’re responsible for, is applying to college, assume the admissions process will include a sweep of the prospective student’s social media presence.

Don’t think so? A 2020 survey of college admissions officers showed 65 percent of them had no issue with visiting applicants’ social media pages, and among those who checked social media, 58 percent said they found content that negatively impacted the applications. Those numbers were both up, considerably, from 2019.

So, yes, you need to clean up those profiles.

Getting Started

The first step is to do what the admissions officer will likely do: Google yourself (or the applicant in your care). You may find pages you’ve forgotten about. After all, we’ve come a long way from MySpace. You’re probably dealing with everything from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to Snapchat, Kik and Pinterest. Don’t forget Tumblr, as well as newer, ideology-based apps like Parler and Gab.

Doing the Deep Clean

You may never erase every mistake you’ve ever made from the internet, but here are some simple tips:

  1. Don’t Be So Public: Okay, influencers have to be public. But unless you’re pulling six figures from your TikToks, change your privacy settings. Limit your posts, likes and profile information so that only your friends can see them.
  2. Deactivate and Delete: That old Twitter page? Deactivate it. Next, do a thorough audit of all your active social media. Remove obscenities, offensive humor and age-inappropriate behavior and images. If it’s borderline, err on the side of caution. If tagged in a friend’s post in violation of any of the above, untag yourself, hide the post and ask the friend to remove it.
  3. Curate Your Follows: Follow your own school’s social media to show school spirit, like charitable causes to demonstrate community involvement and follow accounts that mirror your personal, academic and professional goals.
  4. Do a Dig Me Diet: A selfie or two is fine. A demonstration of every filter over the last four years depicts an unflattering level of self-absorption.
  5. Don’t Forget Blogs and Podcasts: If you’re a passionate podcaster, delete anything controversial, inflammatory or unprofessional. Same goes for blogs — and any blog kept should be edited to be as polished as an admissions essay.

Once your profiles are clean, leverage them! If you’ve visited the campus, or even just bought a school T-shirt, post a photo and tag the school. Blog about aspirational, positive topics.

Show Your Best Self

Use tools like the EncourageMe.com app to refine your application process.

A social media presence is an opportunity to showcase more than last night’s dessert. You’re more substantial than that, and your online footprint should show it. View that presence as an extension of your college application.

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