Right now in colleges across the country, staff are scurrying to evaluate student applicants for the upcoming class. Once you make it past the general admissions office, there’s a whole new round of people evaluating you.

Think: athletic departments, financial aid, and special programs. These smaller programs often have time to look more closely, and they do! As a final consideration in the last weeks of evaluation, many turn to your online persona. (Last year, 35% of admissions officers said they looked to social media.) So, the big question: can your online persona get into that program?

Here are  few quick tips to help you make sure that you look as good online as you did at your interview:


Use your privacy settings, but not the way you’d think!

Is your first instinct to make everything private and viewable only to friends? That’s a common reaction, but it might not be the best one. Instead, consider using filters. Click that little gear button on the corner of the page and apply some filters. You’re an amazing person, and showing that off online can actually be helpful. Just make sure you’re showing the kind of stuff you’d put in your amazing college essay.

Double check those photos

Go through your photos to make sure you’re not portrayed in any compromising situations. Maybe that costume party was in poor taste, maybe that funny photo your friend jokingly tagged you in is a bad idea, and well…. red solo cups = big red flags.

You “liked” what, exactly?!

Those page/group likes can really pile up. Maybe you absent-mindedly liked one you thought was funny…. in middle school. It’s time to revisit them! Consider if all those groups really represent you correctly. Bad attitudes, swearwords, vulgarity, and racial slurs are definitely things to get rid of. There might be one exception if you happen to follow a very famous Facebook group that … ahem…. vigorously exclaims how much it loves science.


Tow the line?

Thankfully, Twitter is more linear than Facebook, so it can be easier to clean up.  Go through your posts get rid of all the obvious things: foul language, vulgarity, etc. Hopefully by now it’s full of great stuff that you'd be proud to show off.

What about retweets?

Even if it was just a retweet and you didn’t “say it” yourself, by retweeting it, you kind of are saying it. Consider if it’s something you’d repeat to a scholarship selection committee.

Handle the Handles

Hopefully, your twitter account name (aka: your handle) doesn’t make you cringe in this new light. But what about the people you follow? If you’ve retweeted someone, remember that their handle is visible. If it’s something offensive, maybe reconsider leaving it up.

Everywhere Else

Noticing a trend? Yep, these rules apply pretty much everywhere. Your social media profiles are a great way to showcase how amazing you are (and you are!) So use them to do that. Keep them in good shape, and you’ll find that a solid social media presence can be a boon later on when you’re applying to those essential internships, and eventually jobs!

So, ask yourself. Right now, if an admissions officer, or scholarship committee, or athletic director saw your social profile pages -- what would they say? Make sure the answer to that is one that helps you.

Authored by Jared Meyer

Jared specializes in communication in higher education. He writes about getting into college and succeeding once you're there. He's the editor of the American Honors Blog.