Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mindful Social Media for College Admission

Many high school students think a key component to their college admittance success involves hiding their Facebook and Instagram accounts with pseudonyms that mimic their true name. According to Josh Ochs who wrote Light, Bright and Polite: How to Use Social Media to Impress Colleges and FutureEmployers, this is not true. Ochs speaks to students and parents around the country about the best way to leverage social media to boost one’s college resume and application. Josh Ochs’ YouTube videos and blog entries can be found at his website Safe, Smart, and Social.

In Light, Bright and Polite, Ochs encourages teens to mindfully use their social media networks to their advantage. In a 6 minute YouTube “Use Instagram to Impress Colleges,” summarizes some of his key tips and points. A positive digital footprint with one’s real name fares much better with colleges than a missing one. College applicants are encouraged to shift their perspective. Rather than avoiding a negative digital footprint students are encouraged to intentionally create a positive one.

In his book Ochs claims, “When you are on established social media networks, you have a lot of places to post content that casts you in the best light. Use this place to showcase your talents, interests and abilities so that colleges can see you as an engaged and intelligent student who would make a great addition to their institution.”



So what does this mean for today’s teens? It means that they can begin preparing their college resume, as soon as they begin to use social media. Some key rules are:

1. Protect your online reputation
2. Think before you share.
3. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
4. Consider whether you want your profiles to be public or private.

In some ways, this highlights the importance of community service and service learning. It's not only what they do for their community but how they document the service. As students participate in different volunteer opportunities, including community service trips, they can intentionally showcase their contributions to society. Real life activities impress colleges. Some volunteer opportunities to consider:

1. Dog Shelters
2. Senior Citizen Center or Assisted Living
3. Overseas volunteer work
4. Habitat for Humanity
5. Red Cross of other blood donation facilities
6. Hospitals
7. Fundraising for non-political or overly dramatic causes.

And some more specific examples when posting photos and comments. 

1. Rather than posting a selfie with your lips puckered up, post a picture of a day volunteering with friends at one of the local charity events going on in your town.
2. Rather than posting a selfie with your best friends at a late night party, post a photo with your family, including your dog after a family hike.
3. Rather than criticizing the school coach who cut you from the team, congratulate those who made the team.

Some of these may seem forced, but this is what colleges are looking for when they check applicants' social media. They are looking for students who will represent their college in the college's best light, and these posts reflect on who one is and what type of students they will be at their college. 

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