Can Colleges See Your Social Media Accounts?

Your GPA and standardized testing scores aren’t the only factors that determine your application status. College admissions officers like to consider a range of elements when they look for potential students. Of course, grades, extracurricular activities, SAT and ACT scores, and personal statements are all important parts of your application, but some students don’t realize that colleges could also take a look at profiles on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. 

If your account is not set to private, it is possible that an admissions officer will look at your online accounts. Not all colleges take this step during the admissions process, but you don’t want to rule out the possibility. Because social media can show colleges whether a particular student is a good fit for their school, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and other social media websites are on college radars now more than ever. 

Because your social media presence could determine whether you get an acceptance or rejection letter, we highly recommend looking over your social media posts before submitting your college applications. Because college can see anything you’ve ever publicly posted online, your examination of your social media should include both recent and older posts. 

We’ll talk more about this topic in detail so you can understand the true impact of social media on your college application

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Do Colleges Really Look At Your Social Media Pages?

There is a real chance that college admission officers will look at your social media. This isn’t set in stone, but in a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey, around one-third of officers admitted to looking at students’ social media accounts to learn more about prospective students. In most cases, however, admissions officers aren’t that interested in social media. A majority of admissions officers said they look at students’ online presences “somewhat rarely.” 

Still, those admissions officers who look at social media the most said they found posts and content that helped the student in their application process. Around 32% did say that they found posts that hurt students’ chances of admission too. 

What Makes A Social Media Page Stand Out Positively? 

So, how can students boost their application with social media and present a good image to admissions officers? Students should think about how their posts indicate their character. Kids who show themselves as active members of their community will obviously look better, and posting about volunteer work, internships, and other extracurriculars can give you an advantage over other applicants. Also showing off academic awards, events, and other hobbies and passions online can help your chances of being seen in a positive light. 

Again, most admissions officers are not looking at your social media. But on the off chance they are, it’s good to have a clean and well-rounded profile. 

In the next few sections of this blog post, we’ll discuss what you shouldn’t post online. 

Should You Delete Your Social Media?

Some students wonder if they should simply delete their online presence right before submitting their applications. This is one option, but we don’t recommend deleting your online presence entirely. While it’s true that there have been cases where colleges have revoked acceptance letters due to inappropriate social media posts, most students will benefit from having an online presence. 

In fact, deleting all your online accounts could raise red flags to admission officers that check social media. They might think you have something to hide, especially since it’s unusual for someone not to have any online presence these days. Instead of deleting your accounts, try deleting questionable posts that could get you in trouble.  

What Should You Delete From Your Social Media?

Some basic steps you can take to clean up your online presence for college admission officers, you should: 

  • Look at your profile picture. To make a good first impression, choose a photo that is appropriate and semi-professional looking. 
  • Delete any posts that display illegal activity or suggest approval of illegal activities. Party photos, pictures of drugs, content with underage drinking, and any other illegal activity should be deleted from your social media accounts. This may sound obvious, but some students forget to do this and end up getting reported to colleges by third parties. 
  • Remove yourself from tagged photos. In some cases, other people may have tagged you in inappropriate posts or photos. Look through your tagged photos and make sure that there is nothing illicit or inappropriate. 
  • Get rid of any nudity or offensive symbols. Colleges don’t want to see nude photos online. Offensive symbols like the middle finger or anything racially insensitive should also be deleted as you sweep through your social media. 
  • Finally, remove any hateful or crude comments posted on your accounts. Comb through any comments you made and delete anything rude or negative. You don’t want admissions officers associating you with inappropriate comments you made when you were younger. This could include swear words as well. It’s not that you can’t ever swear online, but you want to paint a positive image of yourself. 

Taking steps to protect your online image and curate a positive online presence can take a lot of work, but this is an essential step if you want to show admission officers your best side. 

Though not all colleges look at your social media, there is still a chance it could impact your college admissions decisions, so you can never be too careful.

We highly recommend that you check out our blog: What Demonstrated Interest Means in College Admissions

At HelloCollege, we know how difficult it can be to prepare for college and aim to make the process as simple and easy as possible. We want to help you get accepted into the university of your dreams!

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The Hello College Team

HelloCollege CEO Andrea Emmons has spent the last 15 years guiding students and families across the country on their path to college. Andrea knows the profound impact proactive college planning has on the lives of students and is passionate about mentoring families through the process.
Kevin Krebs - Founder of HelloCollege

About Our Founder

Kevin Krebs

Inspired by his parents, Kevin’s journey from a first-gen, diverse, low-income background to Northwestern University shaped him. After experiencing challenges, including student loan debt, he founded HelloCollege and has spent the last 25 years helping students successfully navigate college admissions.

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