Social Media and Admissions

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When people look you up online, what do they see? Are you easy to find? Is your online presence clean and polished, or controversial and questionable?

The impact of social media on the college admissions process has increasingly become a two-way street.While students are researching prospective schools on Facebook and Twitter, admissions departments are also checking up on prospective students’ social media profiles.

When applying to college, it is vital for you to present your best self not only on your application, but also online. Your application will tell the admissions officers about your interests, the type of student you are, and how well you performed in school. But your online presence will tell admissions officers, and future employers, how you present yourself in public, and how your projected image fits in with their particular institution.

Since last year’s spotlight on how to be Facebook savvy, the importance of your social presence has increased dramatically. As shown in a recent survey of college admissions officers by Kaplan, your social media presence is playing a part in your consideration for admission, and admissions officers are paying attention to what they find.

  • 27% of admissions officers surveyed said they Google prospective students.
  • 26% said they look up applicants on Facebook.
  • 35% said that when checking up on a student’s online presence, they found something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting in, nearly tripling from 12% last year.

So whether you like it or not, your online identity is playing a part in your admissions decisions.

However, there are ways to manage your digital presence and make sure you are presenting your best, authentic self online, as well as in your application. Here are some tips:

  • “De-tag” yourself from any questionable photos or content. Be careful of posting too many party photos. We tell students, “We don’t want to a picture of you with a cup in your hand.” Always use the “Grandparent Test.” If you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see it, don’t put it online.
  • Post content that underscores your interests. Share interesting and relevant articles, upload your music and artwork, and share photos or videos from your sporting events or performances.
  • Follow the schools you are applying to in order to stay informed about campus events and any other important news that may be relevant to your application or admission decision.

Online Reputation Management

If you’re concerned that simply de-tagging and filtering your own content isn’t enough, there are also a myriad of online tools, networks, and resources, like Qnary and Google’s “Me on the Web” tool, which can help you build your personal “brand.”

Based on the recent Kaplan survey, Facebook is first and foremost on the list of social channels you should be optimizing, but there is also great value in other platforms like Google+ and Tumblr. Overall, the goal is to show that everything you have stated in your application is positively supported or enhanced by your online presence.

With online reputation management tools like Qnary, you can register online and link all your social platforms to your account to obtain a comprehensive view of what you look like online in terms of search results, interests, images, and accomplishments. You can use this information to develop ways to improve your online presence and shape the message that your social media content communicates. Qnary and similar firms also provide personal consulting, for a fee, which helps you maximize your online presence in case admissions officers, or future employers, are checking up on your social media channels.

So whether it’s being more wary of what you post and who you interact with online, or simply revving up your online presence to reinforce the information on your application, it’s important to keep an eye on your social media platforms. You never know who may be looking at you!

Hopefully, you’ve been busy the past few months, researching colleges, creating and finalizing a balanced college list. Now that you’ve narrowed down the list of schools to which you will apply, it’s time to create your application strategy – deciding when and how you will apply.

Throughout your research, you’ve likely come across terms such as Early Decision, Early Action, and Rolling Admission, among others. These are application options that differ based on the application deadline, response date, and your commitment to attend the school, if accepted. It is important for students to understand the different application plans, the potential outcomes, and the choices that are available. Feeling overwhelmed? The expert counselors at our firm have compiled a quick list of the different application options:

Early Options
Does the early bird really get the worm? Usually, but it depends. While there can be an advantage to applying early, you should only apply early if you’re ready. Being ready means you have visited and researched your school(s) extensively, your grades through junior year are indicative of who you are as a student, you have taken all necessary standardized tests (and do not plan to retake them), and you have completed all application components, including essays. The following early options may be offered:

Early Decision (ED)

Application due: The application and all supporting documents must be submitted early in November, usually between November 1 and 15 of your senior year.

Notification: Applicants usually find out about ED decisions in December.

Early Decision is ideal for students who have identified a college as a definite first choice.We encourage students to apply Early Decision only if they are ready and if they will definitely enroll if accepted. You may only apply to one school ED and the application is binding; if a student is accepted under ED, he or she must withdraw all applications to other schools and he or she is committed to attending that school. Our experts say that by applying ED, the student is “essentially telling the college that it is your first choice; and you may be rewarded by a higher admit rate during this period.”

Because of the ED application deadlines, junior year grades are extremely important for ED applicants. However, first semester senior grades are often submitted later on as well. Watch out; don’t start slacking off second semester senior year, as schools can rescind their offers! [AW ONLY: If you are looking for the best financial aid offer, ED may not be the plan for you. You do not have the flexibility to compare financial aid packages and must accept the financial aid offered by the ED school.]

Early Decision II (ED II)

Application due: Usually between January 1 and February 1 of your senior year.

Notification: Applicants usually find out about ED II decisions in March.

Some universities provide two ED dates; the second date is for students who are sure about the school being their first choice, but aren’t ready to apply by the November deadline, or for students who were denied from an ED school. This is often called ED II and these deadlines are usually closer to the RD deadline. Like ED, ED II applications are binding, and students may have an advantage by submitting an ED II application. Because students are committed to attend if accepted, the college can more easily determine their yield. Bowdoin College, Tufts University, and Pomona College are some example of schools that offer the ED II option.

Early Action (EA)

Application due: The application and all supporting documents must be submitted early in November, usually between November 1 and 15 of your senior year.

Notification: Applicants usually find out about EA decisions in December.

EA is similar to ED but you are not required to attend the school if accepted. This option is great for students who have decided their EA school is one of their top choice schools (if not their number one), and they are ready to apply, but do not want to be obligated to attend the school if accepted. Like ED applicants, EA applicants receive acceptance decisions in December, though have until May 1 to decide if they will enroll. You can apply to more than one EA school, even if you are also applying ED to another university. Some schools with EA plans include University of Chicago, Notre Dame, Georgetown, and MIT.

Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) or Restricted Early Action

Application due: The application and all supporting documents must be submitted early in November, usually between November 1 and 15 of your senior year.

Notification: Applicants usually find out about SCEA decisions in December.

SCEA is similar to EA in that you are not bound to attend if accepted. However, with the SCEA restriction, you cannot apply early to any other school, be it EA or ED, until you have heard back from your SCEA school. After you receive the school’s decision of acceptance, deferral, or denial, you may apply to other schools [AW ONLY: and compare financial aid offers] before deciding where to enroll by May 1. This is a good option for a student who is ready to apply to a school they really like but don’t necessarily want to be bound by the decision of the school. However, be sure you do not want to apply early elsewhere, as you will not be able to do so. Harvard, Princeton, and Yale have SCEA or plans, while Boston College and Stanford University have Restrictive Early Action plans. Note: Boston College’s Restrictive Early Action Program permits candidates to apply to other Early Action programs, but not Early Decision programs.

Other Options

Regular Decision

Application due: Regular Decision applications and supporting documents must be submitted to the school by a set date in your senior year, which varies from November 30 to March 15. Applications to most selective schools are due January 1, 15, or February 15.

Notification: Applicants usually find out about Regular decisions by April 1.

Looking for some regularity? Regular Decision is one of the most common application options, as you can apply to as many schools as you want under this option. Once the college has received all applications, they are reviewed and all applicants are notified at the same time, during the spring of senior year. If accepted, you must notify the college by May 1 of your intent to accept or decline their office of admission. Applicants who are deferred in the early round will be reconsidered during the Regular Decision round. Regular Decision acceptances are non-binding, which means you can choose to enroll in that school or another school that has accepted you.

Rolling Admission (RA)

Application due: Usually anytime between September 1 and May 1, though it is best to send in your application as early as possible – in September or October of senior year – as RA schools continue to accept students until they reach their enrollment capacity.

Notification: Applicants are notified of admission decisions as soon as the file is complete (usually within weeks of receiving the application).

Looking forward to acceptance letters rolling in? Once the RA school receives your completed file, they immediately review and act on your application. The college generally notifies the applicant with an admissions decision within several weeks of receiving the application. Schools such as Rutgers University, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Tampa use rolling admissions.

Our counselors help students craft a strategy to determine which application options they will use for each of the schools on their list. You should prioritize completing your standardized tests and finishing your essays based on those deadlines. You can find out your schools’ deadlines and policies by visiting the schools’ websites and reviewing the admissions page.

Best of luck!

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