Last week, I talked about 5 ways to avoid being rejected from college by increasing your Facebook privacy settings and making sure you're name has a good connotation online. This week, I want to cover how students can use social media to their advantage in the college application process. Here are my five tips for getting into college by using online tools:
(1) Write your own blog
Free blogging websites like Wordpress and Blogger allow you to write and release your own articles for free, on you own personal URL. If you are a high school student with a specific interest that relates to extra-curricular activities or academics, write about it. A personal blog shows initiative, highlights your writing style, demonstrates how you could add an extra element to a college campus, and increases your transparency online.
(2) Follow prospective colleges on Facebook and Twitter
Pretty much every college will have a Facebook fan page and Twitter account. Most colleges, in fact, will have multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts. Each one will be targeted to alumni, athletics, UGrad students, press, and other areas. Follow the ones that best fit your situation and interest you the most. Doing this will have two positive impacts: (1) you will be able to stay up to date on the college's information and (2) if the college looks into your social accounts, they will be able to see that you are interested and following them.
(3) Make a video
As we all know, getting into college is becoming increasingly competitive. Applicants need a way to stand out, and a making a video could be one way to do that. Film yourself talking about why you want to go to a college and how you could add value to the school. Other ideas have been to make a video essay or write a skit that explains what makes you who you are. Then, you can upload the video to Youtube and use the link in applications. Here are some examples of video applications on Youtube.
(4) Use online photo album sites
If you are a photographer, artist, athlete, traveler, actor/actress, or like to participate in any other high school clubs, then you must have relevant pictures. Websites like Flick and Picasa allow you to create your own photo albums under your own profile for free. If you put your full name in the title of your photo-sharing site, this will most likely come up high in Google search results. "A picture says a thousand words," so remember that as much of a positive impact this can have on your application, inappropriate photos could negatively impact it even more.
(5) Get press
In addition to being great character builders and a positive on the community,volunteering and extra-curriculars can be great opportunities to receive local press. Having your name in a local paper will make a positive impact on your online searchable reputation.
Here are two other ways to receive press as a high school student. First, if you have a story to tell about yourself (you own your own small business, you volunteer outside of school, you play on some nationally recognized athletic team, etc.) do not be afraid to approach local blogs and newspapers to tell your story.
Secondly, Help a Reporter Out is a great way to receive press. Help a Reporter Out sends out three emails daily. These emails are organized into categories and each category has multiple requests from journalists who are looking for sources to write stories. You will see something like this in the email: "I'm looking to write a story about how high school students are helping in the community: for a national blog." Then, you can click through to a bigger description, and if you can help answer the questions, you could become a source for the article.
So those are the top 5 ways you can use social media to help get into college. To make sure you are staying on track with your college application process, fill in the form below to receive a free 15-page college planning timeline.