Teacher Tuesday: 4 ways students can use social media to their academic advantage

The Kaplan Test Prep’s 2010 survey of college admissions officers shows 82 percent of admissions officers use Facebook as a tool to recruit students. It’s also suspected that searching for the social media presence of a prospective student is used by admissions officers at highly-selective schools to help them make decisions when deciding who to admit from a large pool of candidates. Elements like grades, test scores, and volunteering are still more important to a student’s admission but when it comes down to choosing between students with similar credentials, you don’t want your social media presence to give your competitor the upper-hand. In a thread on the website Quora, an interviewer for Harvard College admissions admitted she occasionally will Google students to see if the presence the student carefully crafted for their admission aligns with their social media presence. She suggests if college and career is important to the student, they do a Google search of their name and pull anything that they wouldn’t want their parents to see.

There are more than 500 million users on Facebook and it is unlikely that a great deal of them will be inspired to delete their profile to increase their chances of getting into their dream college. On the blog, Student Advisor, editor-in-chief Dean Tsouvalas gives tips on how to have a social media presence and have it work for students instead of against them. Share the following tips in class to make sure your students are aware of the responsibility that comes with having an online presence:
1. Get informed.
Stay up-to-date on what’s happening at your prospective school by following them on Twitter, “Like” them on Facebook and subscribe to any other news feeds they offer. You can use the information they share to your advantage by incorporating your knowledge into your essays and interviews.
2. Use videos.
Tufts invited students to submit an optional one-minute video with their application so prospective students could show themselves engaged in extra-curricular activities or have reference deliver their kind words in video format vs. a letter. Post a video that shows your leadership or creative skills to YouTube and tag the prospective school.
3. Start blogging.
If you’re worried your personality doesn’t shine through in your admission essay or you’re worried about your average GPA, use a blog to showcase your writing skills, pictures of you helping in the community or your creativity. Add a link to your blog on your application and invite the admissions officer to check out your polished social media presence and encourage them to leave a comment.
4. Set it to privacy.
If you enjoy using your social networking tools for your personal entertainment, make sure you set it to private. Otherwise, everyone can access your information and your fun may be used against you.
Encourage students to use their social media tools to show their maturity, leadership and judgment by being intelligent about what and with whom they share personal information. What other ways can students use social media to their advantage? Share your ideas in the comment box below.
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