Many college-bound students work very hard to achieve good grades, write compelling essays, participate in extracurricular activities, and even devote their time to helping in their communities. These are all excellent ways to boost your chances of being accepted to a university or getting a scholarship. However, one area that tends to be completely overlooked is digital presence.
If you are a millennial, chances are that you have a consistent online presence on multiple websites. While you may think of social media as nothing more than harmless fun, the truth is, it can impact your chances of winning scholarships.
Scholarship judges care about what you post on social media
A 2017 study by Kaplan Test Prep in New York found that 35 percent of college admissions officers check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social networking sites to learn more about potential candidates. Furthermore, 42 percent of admissions officers who check said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects.
What is negative social media content?
Negative social media content includes posts that are vulgar, emphasize illegal drug use, sexual acts, violence, and anything else that would horrify your grandma.
So, if your social media pages are filled with unflattering content and nothing substantial, it could cost you a college admission, scholarship, and even future career opportunities. The good news is that you can also use your internet presence to your advantage.
Here are a few suggestions on how to clean up your digital presence and use your social media profiles to highlight your accomplishments.
How to use social media to your advantage
Step 1: Clean up your digital profile
Your social media accounts say a lot about you. Go through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media profiles and delete any posts or photos that are inappropriate. If you don’t want to sift through everything, delete the account and start over. Do not open a dummy or fake account. You will be perceived as sneaky and dishonest if they are traced back to you. You can also adjust your privacy setting as high as possible so that casual browsers won’t have access to your posts. It is also wise to Google yourself and check what turns up. You should remove any material that belongs to you and is questionable.
Step 2: Be mindful of what you post
You want to be careful about the images you share, and the posts you’re tagged in. If someone catches you on camera or video making out or playing beer pong, ask that the images be deleted before they are posted online and out of your control. Moreover, your profile name should be appropriate. Don’t call yourself SexKitten69 or GanjaLover420, just use your first and last name.
Be respectful in what items you like and share. You may find a racist cartoon hilarious, but sharing it on social media can make you look like an intolerant bigot. Keep your opinions conservative. Avoid heated political, religious, racial, sexual, or other intolerant online arguments. While it’s okay to debate with your friends, far left or right-wing musings can cost you big.
Step 3: Populate your profile with positive content
You want your online presence to show you in a positive light. Highlight your accomplishments and achievements. There are a few ways you can do this. Try to emphasize your excitement about the program you’ve chosen, or post pictures on Facebook of you accepting a volunteer award. Tweet about your sports team winning a championship game, or showcase time with your family. You can write public blog posts and notes about an empowering or touching incident that happened recently. Emphasize time with your family, photos of your world travels, and positive academic or social activities from school.
Social media and an online presence can be extremely powerful tool in your quest for scholarships, but only if done right. You want to present yourself in the best way possible to scholarship judges. That includes content that you post or share on social media. Use this valuable tool to modifying anything unfavourable that may hinder your credentials.
This article was originally published in the September 2018 edition of Rg Scholarships.