Being the best college applicant you can possibly be requires many purposeful actions and decisions long before you contact your top colleges of choice. One critical component of your portfolio that will be perused by admissions boards is how you manage your various social media accounts. Think of social media as a tool to promote yourself in the absolute best light possible rather than as a platform to share inappropriate moments captured in a photo by you or one of your friends.  Here are some tips to consider while reviewing and editing your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other accounts before you apply to your dream college.

Secure your privacy settings

Do not allow your accounts to be viewed by the general public or even “friends of friends”!  When social media platforms do updates, privacy options often change, so it’s good to double check them regularly. For each account, go through all of the privacy and security options to make sure you control who can view your photos, read your posts, and tag you.

Police your photos

A picture is worth a thousand words and an inappropriate picture can get you a thousand rejections from colleges. Remove any images that show you (or the people around you in the photo) drinking alcohol, using drugs, or engaging in illegal behavior. Likewise, photos of you dressed in revealing clothing or depicting nudity must be removed. Make sure you also reach out to friends who may have posted photos of you and ask them to delete them if necessary. If the friend won’t remove the photo, you can at least un-tag yourself or report the photo to the site. Photos that show you participating in volunteer activities, school functions, sports, or other appropriate activities can help show colleges that you’re responsible and actively engaged in your community.

Review your posts

Posts, tweets, and blogs can be just as damaging as inappropriate photos. Make sure you remove anything that contains foul language, derogatory words, or references to drugs, alcohol, or partying. More importantly, delete posts that display attitudes that are racist, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced. Also, posts that badmouth your school, an employer, or even a friend, may make schools hesitate to accept you. When you post things, focus on using language that is professional and polite. Posts that show that you’re a compassionate, intelligent, and creative person are great! Colleges want to see that you are mature and have good judgment, so don’t present evidence to the contrary. If in doubt follow this rule: if you wouldn’t say something at a job interview, you shouldn’t post it on social media.

Check your shared content

Content that you like, share, or re-tweet usually shows up on your personal feed. Even if you didn’t personally write something, sharing it implies that you agree with it and can make you appear closed-minded, rude, or intolerant. In a similar vein, it may be wise to un-follow pages that post offensive content.
Even though the thought of cleaning up social media may feel daunting, it is an important step toward creating and presenting the best version of you to the world. As you transition into college and young adulthood, you have to take an honest look at how you portray yourself to the world. Colleges and future employers will be happy to see a young adult who uses social media in a way that is polite, responsible, and appropriate. As you clean up your accounts, ask yourself this: “Does this photo/post/tweet reflect who I want to be as a person?” If the answer is “No!” ~ it has to go!