Smart Social Media Strategies for Applicants

June 2, 2019

What is digital citizenship? Quite simply, it is the way in which people use technology appropriately.

How do we help our high school and college students manage their digital footprint teaching them to act responsibly thereby creating a positive social media profile?  We reached out to Denise DeRosa to get her advice and guidance on what tools and skills our children need to be a better digital citizen.  

You have a lot on your mind. It is a stressful time. SATs, college applications, college visits, and interviews, all on top of your normal high school homework and extracurricular activities. One thing you should not forget however is your online profile. College admissions officers are searching the social media profiles of applicants so you need to be prepared. Here’s the good news, this can actually help you! Take some time over the summer months to prepare your digital footprint and follow these steps to use social media to network during your college search.

De-Clutter Your Footprint

First, conduct an objective review of your online presence. Google yourself and see what comes up. Make sure that the online person you see reflects the real you, and the best of you. If it doesn’t, start cleaning up any questionable content. Untag yourself from photos, unlike controversial material, and delete any posts that could be misinterpreted. You should also take a hard look at your online ‘friends’. Make sure that no one in your circle will reflect badly on you or try to sabotage your efforts. As you are cleaning up and deleting problematic material, you should also start organizing positive elements of your history. Highlight any clubs, jobs, or volunteer experience and make sure to tag yourself in content showcasing your participation in projects or events outside of the classroom.

Establish a Positive Online Profile

Think about how you want to present yourself and learn how to tell your story using blogs, articles, videos, and creative posts. Don’t think of your entire online social presence as a resume, instead use your personal profiles to round out your personality and reveal more of your authentic self. You can also decide which social platforms you would like to use for this purpose and keep other profiles more private (i.e., use Facebook to network, and keep Snapchat for close friends only). Linkedin has a checklist for high school students who want to create a professional profile. This is a good place to start because colleges are using Linkedin to search for potential applicants. It is good to know that you can work on your profile and keep it private until you feel it is ready to share.

Have a Social Media Game Plan

Now that your profile is set, think about how you can make the right connections. Use your social media skills to your advantage. Begin following college profile pages, admissions officers on Twitter, follow relevant hashtags and stay ‘in-the-know’ on any events on campuses you would like to visit. You may even be able to connect with a current student who is willing to share his/her experience with you. Start getting noticed by commenting on subjects of interest, sharing or liking posts but keep all opinions and observations classy, professional and relevant.

Know Your Audience

You have the skills to use social media to get attention and engagement from your friends. During the college application process, you need to transfer these skills to reach a new audience, college administrators. You do not need to hide your personality, in fact, you should highlight what helps you stand out. But be careful to think about how someone who does not yet know you will receive your message, joke, or thought-provoking idea. Of course, consider the culture on the social platform you are using in producing your content (Linkedin is for professionals, Instagram is image focused — especially good for artists/stylists/decorators, Twitter is for fast, like-minded connections).

Capitalize on Opportunity

Use your online presence to support the information you provided in your application. If you reference that you volunteer at a soup kitchen every year, make sure you share a post, photo or video of the experience. You also want to use your online presence to supplement your application and share aspects of your personality that are not evident in your SAT scores or grades — like being a good friend, a responsible older sibling, someone who is fun to be around, positive, enjoys cooking, exploring or adventure. When you share more of your authentic self, you will create a connection to the real you and not just a set of numbers and grades on an application.

Try to think of your digital profile as an opportunity to share the best of you, including any struggles you’ve overcome or extra work you had to put in to achieve a goal. If you know that admissions officers may take a peek at your social profiles, make sure they can find the good stuff easily. What do you WANT them to know? Then use your skills in developing content to tell your story the way you want it told.

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Denise DeRosa, Author

Denise Lisi DeRosa is an online safety consultant, blogger, speaker and the Founder of Cyber Sensible . She shares advice in her blog, A Positive Digital Life, and has been an internet safety expert for Consumer Reports, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Yahoo! Parenting, and The Digital Parent Podcast. Interview topics covered include parenting online, digital wellness, cyberbullying, sexting, teens online habits and social media strategies for student applicants.

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