Two things that most certainly do not go together is your tweet or Facebook post about an all night- underaged drinking rager you hosted and your application to colleges and universities. Neither is any sort of opinion showcasing hate speech or the like to any group of people. Most high school students do not think that there is any harm but I caution you that someone is watching and amongst all of your followers, a few of those watching are admissions officers at your dream schools.
So should you go off the grid? Should you have the strictest privacy settings on any and all social media?
The answer to both of these questions is YES! To be blunt, there is not much that you will showcase via any of your social media accounts that will add much in a positive way to your overall application. The way to impress or leave a positive impression is to NOT leave a digital footprint. I think we have seen numerous accounts of tweets and facebook LIVE videos from 2016-2017 that ALL of us wish never existed or wish that there was a way to erase.
What is also important to note is that some admissions teams will continuously monitor your social media accounts well after you have received your acceptance letter. I have seen this occur in my career in admissions personally. Most recently, Harvard has had to rescind the admissions of a number of students- great for Harvard’s community and students on the waitlist but obviously a life-altering mistake for the students who participated in the hate speech via their social media accounts. NPR’s cover of the story is here.
Finally, if you truly need to leave a digital footprint- please consider that it be a part of your application story. For example, writing a blog, vlog or having a public YouTube Channel that connects to a passion or interest would be a way to tie a “digital footprint” to augment your overall application.