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Can Your Instagram Account Help You Get into College?

A simple screen shot, even after you’ve deleted a post, can derail your plans.

Shawna Newman

March 04, 2021

Find out just how important your social media footprint is on the college admissions decision. Will your social media accounts help you or hurt you? Learn two ways to evaluate your social accounts and how to make quick adjustments.
Can Your Instagram Account Help You Get into College?
For many United States students, applying to college can seem like a daunting process. If you’re a high school senior there are application essays to submit, letters of recommendation to gather, forms to fill out and the application process includes deadlines to track—not to mention securing financial aid by completing your FAFSA. High school juniors are just beginning to see what it’s going to take to make their college dreams a reality. It takes work, but it’s worth it. Aside from completing and submitting the college application essentials, there’s a hidden part of the college admissions process you may not be aware of—your social media accounts!

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In July, The New York Times reported that “at least a dozen schools have rescinded admissions offers to incoming students,” due to inappropriate and distasteful social posts. Some of these current high school graduates were noted as star athletes and honor students. University admissions teams are considering the whole person, not just your GPA or standardized test scores. One goal of most college campuses is to fuel an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students. For many university and college admissions teams, investigating social media accounts to better understand a student is considered fair game. Inside HigherEd reports, “65 percent of the admissions officers surveyed by Kaplan in 2020 see no issue with social media being a part of the admissions equation.” Whatever your preferred social media channel—Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter or Facebook—all students should be conscious of their social media accounts no matter what your school year: junior high, high school and college.

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Inside HigherEd adds, more than half of the admissions officers surveyed “say what they found had a negative impact.” This proves that even if it's your senior year and you have officially been admitted to college, you must be aware of your social media platforms and the implications they can have on your future. Additionally, some colleges have later application deadlines or rolling admissions; so a future profile check for seniors is still not out of the equation for some students from the Class of 2021. Rather than photobooks, students tend to use their social accounts as a way to document their daily happenings; it’s a historical glimpse of you. Just as you can pull up memories to share, your profile viewers can also look into older Instagram Stories, Snaps or Tweets you’ve shared. Social posts of all types can go viral fast. A simple screen shot, even after you’ve deleted a post, can derail your college plans. Current college students and graduate students should also be aware of their social posts. Many employers look at job applicants’ social media accounts. You wouldn't want to miss an internship opportunity because someone from the interview team felt that your TikTok or Instagram account was concerning.

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Your Instagram Account CAN Help You Get Into College

You should definitely have an online presence. Leverage your social media to help you achieve your goals—Your TikTok app can help you get into college, too. Share an Instagram story of your volunteer work at the animal shelter, or Tweet your appreciation of #HealthcareHeroes with a photo of you delivering coffee to ICU nurses. Admissions officers appreciate the prospects of adding caring people to their university student body. Data supports this theory as “42 percent of admissions officers that check social media accounts" said “What they found has had a positive impact on prospective students,” according to Inside HigherEd. Future employers want to know the person they’re adding to the team is considerate, as well.

How to Evaluate Your Social Media Accounts

All students, even current working professionals, should take time to audit their social media accounts. Use your spring break for a social media “spring cleaning.” Ask yourself: Do my posts reflect negative sentiments? Is this really how I want to first-appear to someone? If you’re feeling “meh,” you should consider cleaning up your social posts and reflect on the attitude you’re portraying. Don't forget about the “About Me” portions of your social accounts, or for Instagram users, your bio. It’s like the cover letter to your social media account! Choose the emojis and words that describe you carefully. These are often the first place a viewer goes to see what you’re about. If the viewer doesn't get good vibes, they may not even move on to your posts or videos. You can make your social media accounts work in your favor. Be a kind human, use common sense and follow the guidelines of social media etiquette. You never know who may be looking at your social accounts to determine what type of person you are.

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