You may have learned about your carbon footprint in an environmental science class, but have you learned about your online footprint?
Your online footprint is what you leave behind on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram—the list goes on. More and more college admissions officers are using these social networks to do research on prospective students before admitting them—or not admitting them in some cases.
Here are some tips on how to make your online profile squeaky clean for Admissions:
1. Dave Copeland at ReadWrite.com writes about high school students amping up their privacy settings and changing their profile names in order to avoid scrutiny from admissions officers. If you’re nervous about what people can see about you, this may be a good option: laying low for a while. However, remember that even if you change your “name,” there are other ways people can find you, including through email addresses and phone numbers.
2. On the other hand, Anne Collier with The Christian Science Monitor writes that having no online presence at all can look suspicious to admissions officers, demonstrating a need to hide oneself. So you can lay low without completely going off the grid.
3. Just stop and think before you post. Honestly, if it’s something you wouldn’t want your parents seeing, you probably wouldn’t want admissions officers seeing it, either. According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey, most admissions officers cited foul language, pictures depicting the consumption of alcohol, and blatant plagiarism to be the biggest turn-offs.
4. Do you have a presentable Facebook photo? If admissions officers are looking for you, would you rather them see your senior picture or a picture of a disappointed McKayla Maroney? Think of your Facebook photo as an actor’s head shot. But be natural, not phony. You want to to leave the best online impression of yourself that you can.