Polish Your Online Presence

Graduating high school is probably one of most exciting times in your life, as you have completed a milestone in life.  Before you know it, it’s time to go away to college and start anew.  But what about things that negatively affect your image and ruin chances of you landing a spot in the school you really want to attend? While it is clear that the majority of high school and college students interact on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, what many students don’t understand is the effects that images, posts, or videos can have on their lives.

As the competition to get into top colleges continues to grow, school officials and admissions counselors are finding new ways to find out more about applicants they’ve only seen on paper.  While a quick Google search of potential students won’t necessarily be the only deciding factor of choosing students, it certainly could affect that decision. Pictures of excessive drinking, offensive posts about religion and politics, and videos that are tacky and less than accepting on a student’s page weighed against a student with a clean online image could be seen as a no-brainer to a college admissions counselor.  According to an article in The Washington Post, surveyed admissions officers at top colleges reported that 10% of them performed background checks on students, with 38% of that group saying the search results had a negative impact on the student.

Just to be safe, and so that some silly pictures will not negatively impact you, comb over your social networking accounts to check for photos that depict excessive drinking, drug use, or those that are sexually explicit. This also applies to posts, comments, videos and interactions that are or can be perceived to be racist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive. The goal is to make your online image viewed as wholesome and serious about school and your education. This can be applied to anything your name is associated with online, including blogs and dating profiles. If you are not sure what should stay and what should go, ask a responsible adult or parent to check through your stuff (if you dare) to see if anything should be deleted.

Aside from clearing out items that may work against you, doing anything possible to create a positive image of yourself couldn’t possibly hurt you. Starting a blog could show that you have the ability to write and can be a way to express your abilities, expertise, and what types of things are important to you. It can be a good way for someone to get to know you and your personality. Another way to get your image, goals, and personality across is to make a video of yourself. Many colleges and universities nowadays accept video essays with applications, and submitting a video is likely to make you stand out in a sea of applications and paper essays. This can also apply to those that need to show their abilities through acting or athletic abilities.

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