Do Colleges Really Check Your Social Media? Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat

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Perhaps you've heard it from your parents or college counselor.

But is it colleges really check your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.? And should you be worried?

The truth is that according to a survey done by Kaplan Test Prep
40% of admissions officers say they visit applicants' social media accounts to learn about them.

This is about four times the percentage that did so in 2008.

Simply put: Yes.

This means that there is a good chance that colleges will check your social media.

This means that admissions officers are increasingly using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to get further insight into what their applicants are about.

Why do they check your social media?

You may ask why college admissions officers will go so far as to look you up online. Surely it seems a bit creepy and invasive, but their reasons make sense.

In applying to college, you, the applicant, are selecting exactly what you want to show to the admissions officers.

Consciously or not, you are choosing what aspects to put on display and what aspects to hide.

Social media, like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, provides colleges with a more authentic view of their applicants.

It shows them how their applicants interact with and showcase themselves to their peers, often very different then how they try and show themselves to colleges.

Should you be worried?

The admissions officers are not out to catch you.

I'm sure you can relate to occasionally looking at someone's Instagram profile for no other reason than you are curious about them. Likewise, it is the admission officers' job to learn about you as an applicant.

They too were once teenagers, so they surely understand that underage drinking, partying, and crude language is a part of adolescence.

What should you do?

You do not need to make all your accounts private if you do not want to, but that is always the last resort.

What I would recommend doing is deleting anything you wouldn't want your grandma to see.

Photo with friends at an amusement park? Keep it.

Photo with friends in a dark room and loads of red Solo cups? Consider hiding it.

If you want to keep all your photos, inside jokes, etc. then consider changing your privacy settings.

With Instagram, you can easily make your account private, which means only your approved followers can see your posts. On Facebook you can make it so that only your friends can see what you post too. And on Twitter, you can make your tweets "protected," meaning that only accounts following you can view your tweets.

How you can use this to your advantage

Knowing that colleges may check your social media, you can use it as just another way to present yourself in the best light possible.

Now, this doesn't mean being fake, but rather posting photos of yourself that represent who you really are.

Having interesting, authentic, and PG-rated content on your social media can actually help you out. If in your application you say you are into rock climbing, then maybe have some cool rock climbing photos on your Instagram.

Obviously don't go overboard with this. You don't even know if colleges will check your social media. What is more important is to remove 'bad' photos—photos that could be misinterpreted or portray you in a negative light.


Yes, it is likely that one or more of the colleges you are applying to will check your social media or Google your name. It's generally not malicious, but rather to learn more about you from an authentic perspective.

ASAP I would recommend going through your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and removing photos and posts that you wouldn't want your grandma to see.

Then, if you'd like you can post a few interesting, genuine photos that are in line with the rest of your application. But don't go overboard!

Hope this helps you out, as always, feel free to email me with any questions or comments!

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