Many students do not want to hear about appropriate online behavior, especially how their actions online can affect outcomes in “real life.” I say “real life” in quotation marks because we should not make the mistake of thinking our actions online and our actions in person are mutually exclusive.
It is incredibly important that we continue to bring the message to students that every online action is interconnected and permanent. In particular, it is imperative that students think about this with regard to the college application process.
It is possible that admission officers will look at a student’s interactions on social media. This is primarily relevant to high school juniors gearing up for the application process, but it is never too early (or too late) to think about maintaining a clean online presence. Here are a few thoughts to springboard conversations with students.
- Do not post photos that you wouldn’t want your Grandma to see. Furthermore, make sure you are aware of all of the photos you are tagged in and make sure they pass the same Grandma test. This goes for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
- Being negative will not impress anyone. For example, be mindful of your tweets. “History test=total fail. I hate Mr. Smith!” That tweet will not win you points with Mr. Smith, or other readers.
- Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Facebook status update: “My biggest dream is to attend (insert specific college here), but I won’t be able to unless I get a FULL scholarship. I totally deserve this and I will just die if this doesn’t happen!” You probably wouldn’t run up and down the halls of your high school broadcasting this, so don’t do it online.
- Be sensitive to your peers going through this process, too. You may want to shout it from the rooftops if you are accepted to a school, but keep in mind that other students may have applied to the same school and may not receive a positive admission decision.
- It is perfectly acceptable to post photos of yourself online, just make sure that they are showing your best possible self. That doesn’t mean they all have to contain sunshine and roses, but they should reflect your personality and how you want to be perceived.
- Do use social media to post about positive experiences. Example tweets, “Great basketball game tonight, guys! #gojays” “So happy the blood drive was a huge success. What a great feeling to give blood!”
- Interact with colleges you are interested in via social media. Ask questions on their Facebook pages, or post a photo from a campus visit and tag or mention the school in your post.
- There are plenty of people who want to celebrate with you when you are accepted! Find your guidance or college counselor, parents, or another trusted adult or friend.
The important thing to remember is that these conversation are important and necessary to have.
Photo credit: michaeljzealot via Creative Commons