Do colleges look at social media before admitting students? Yes, college and university admissions departments can check up on teens and 20-somethings via public-facing social media platforms. Whether they actually do this, however, is another question.
About 65% of admissions officers view social media as “fair game” when evaluating potential enrollees, according to a survey performed by Kaplan Test Prep in 2020. With that said, only 36% of the 313 officers surveyed said they actually took the time to browse applicants’ TikTok, Instagram and other accounts.
Here’s what to know about why colleges look at your social media, and how to tailor your feeds to help, not harm, your chances of admission.
- Why colleges look at your social media
- What you don’t want colleges to see on your social media
- What you do want colleges to see on your social media
- How to use social media to your benefit
Yes, colleges can look at the public version of your social media accounts, but they don’t have some sort of secret, government-like power to access your private information. It’s much more likely that your social media behavior would only be brought to their attention if it causes a stir.
For instance, in 2017, Harvard University rescinded admission offers to 10 incoming, first-year students when they were found to be sharing hateful memes via a private Facebook group chat. And in 2019, Harvard retracted its admission offer to a noteworthy student who had made racist remarks in private chats and Google Docs two years earlier.
|Admissions officers who view social media as “fair game”|
|● 2020: 65%|
Barring notable online behavior, admissions officers are more concerned with factors like your grade transcripts and standardized test scores as well as your college application essay.
Still, your digital presence could give these admissions officers another window into your personhood. Yes, schools want students who are capable of performing in the classroom, but they also want high-character teens and 20-somethings that will comprise a diverse yet safe campus.
It’s not hard to figure out what types of digital infractions might harm your chances of college admission or financial aid. But here are two buckets of behavior to avoid:
|Evidence of underage drinking or other illegal behavior||Insensitive or offensive language or content|
There’s nothing wrong with many high school party pictures. They might actually help you. For one, admissions officers want to enroll well-rounded students who have social lives.
For another, the photos might show that you’re comfortable interacting with different kinds of peers. Just ensure the images put you in a positive light and can’t be misinterpreted.
|Yes, college campuses are ripe for debate, even protest, and admissions officers won’t necessarily shy away from opinionated students who have a platform. But be wary of offending someone else’s views in the process of your social media posting. Words or pictures that disparage anyone else should be considered off-limits.|
One test to avoid overstepping the line: Would you share this experience or opinion during an in-person sit-down with the admissions officer? If not, you have your answer.
To be on the safe side, also consider avoiding posts that are meant to be funny but could be misunderstood. You could be punished by perception, not reality.
|Ways to limit how colleges look at your social media|
Adjust privacy settings to limit who can view your content
Anonymize your account so that colleges can’t associate it with your name
Scrub your accounts for any language, imagery or information that could put you in a poor light, including:
Ask parents and others to browse your account for anything you might have missed
When applying to colleges or graduate schools, your first thought might be to check your privacy settings on popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Although that’s a safe choice, consider your social media profiles as vehicles to tell a positive story to admissions officers. In fact, according to the Kaplan survey, 42% of admissions officers who view social media profiles said that it has a positive impact on the students’ applications.
Here are five ways to improve your social media presence:
Your college application, with well-written essays and killer letters of recommendation, should present you in the best possible light. There’s no reason why your tweets shouldn’t too. And there are ways to do that beyond posting with perfect spelling and grammar.
If you wrote a college essay about helping your younger siblings through tough times, for example, an admissions officer might look for pictures of them on your Facebook profile. Similarly, your online profiles can be good places to post photos of your successes, such as receiving academic awards or playing for your high school’s sports teams.
It might be wise to look back at your past photos on these platforms too. You could find one or two that would make an admissions officer question whether you’re the same applicant who nailed their paper application.
Bonus tip: Remember that your profile pictures are probably the first things that colleges will look for on social media. If yours is professional but appropriate for your age, you could make a strong first impression.
Liking and following the social media profiles of your preferred schools is a smart move. Take it a step further by finding appropriate ways to engage with the schools on these platforms. You might comment on a school’s post, or tag the school during your college visit.
Be wary of going all out for your “reach” school on social media if you’re still being considered by others. The admissions officer of your “target” school could be put off. You also wouldn’t want to poke fun at your “safety” school.
You can also demonstrate your interest in a particular major. If you’re being considered by a university’s college of business, for example, an admissions officer might like to know that you follow top financial experts online.
Your college essay is one way to tell schools about your deepest desires and strongest passions. But your social media profiles can also be a vehicle to show off your interest in, well, whatever it is that interests you. You might be one of the following, to name a few examples:
- Aspiring science major who tweets the latest news from NASA
- Teen journalist who is linking to their latest blog post
- Musician posting a video of their weekend concert
Relishing your favorite pastime online gives schools another view into who you are beyond your grades.
Like negative impressions, positive ones can be gleaned from your Instagram account and Facebook photo galleries. So don’t worry about having to hide them from school admissions departments.
On the flip side, be diligent about how you might appear in friends’ photos, especially on platforms that allow users to tag people without their consent. You wouldn’t want an admissions officer to find a particular image and get the wrong impression.
If you apply for college in January of your senior year of high school, it might be a couple of months before an admissions officer makes a final decision. This would be the period, between January and March, when your social media profiles might be reviewed.
If it strengthens your case for admission, use this time to be your own advocate online. Connect the dots for an admissions officer who might be on the fence. If you focused your application essay on a senior project, for example, post updates about its progress.
You might also use your profiles to document your search for college scholarships. Posting about applications and awards could show colleges that you’re serious about finding your way to campus.
If you haven’t yet applied to schools, consider including a link to, say, your LinkedIn profile in your college application. This way, you can also point admissions departments toward the social media platform of your choice.
Bonus tip: Be aware that your school might also use a social-media-like mobile app called ZeeMee that connects schools with their potential students. It could be one more way to share your story.
When you read that 10 prospective Harvard students were told they were no longer welcome in the class of 2021, your gut reaction might be to shut down all your social media accounts. Less dramatically, you might opt for restricting public access to the accounts.
Depending on your situation, those might be the wisest steps to take. But consider that you’re in control of your narrative.
If you close your accounts, you lose one way to state your case to get into a particular college.
So, instead, consider turning your social media feeds into a positive thing for admissions officers to look at. It might just push you over the top and help you get accepted.
And if you plan to work while in school, consider cleaning up your Google search results and social media pages to also impress potential employers.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
|0.99% – 11.98%1||Undergraduate|
|1.13% – 11.23%*,2||Undergraduate|
|0.99% – 11.44%3||Undergraduate|
|1.50% – 11.33%4||Undergraduate|
|1.12% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate|
|1.15% – 11.01%6||Undergraduate|
|3.80% – 9.36%8||Undergraduate|
|* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a first year graduate student borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.10% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $141.66 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $16,699.21. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 8/9/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
4 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Ascent loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs.
Rates are effective as of 10/01/2021 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates.
1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions, please visit AscentFunding.com/Cashback. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a cosigner.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.66% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.90% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.10% to 11.34% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.08% to 10.86% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.05% to 11.29% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 10.66% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.20% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (>www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.15% – 11.01% (1.15% – 10.24 APR)Fixed interest rates range from 4.18% – 11.70% (4.18% – 10.83% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 10.66% (1.89% – 10.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.64% – 11.23%% (4.64% – 10.95% APR).
Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 9.22% (1.89% – 8.50% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.38% – 10.44% (4.38% – 9.72% APR).
Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 8.02% (1.89% – 7.72% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.28% – 9.24% (4.28% – 8.94% APR).
Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.97% – 7.06% (1.97% – 7.06% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.94% – 8.58% (4.94% – 8.58% APR).
Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.44% – 9.58% (4.44% – 9.52% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.83% APR).
Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.53% – 7.03% (3.53% – 6.76% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.98% – 10.09% APR).
Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of June 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7 Important Disclosures for Funding U.
Funding U Disclosures
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are made by Funding University which is a for-profit enterprise. Funding University is not affiliated with the school you are attending or any other learning institution. None of the information contained in Funding University’s website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Funding University or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.