Teenagers applying to colleges may not be aware of the degree to which their reputations on the internet can affect their chances of being accepted to their preferred school. Now more than ever, students’ online activities have real-world implications – a single picture on Facebook can jeopardize a job opportunity, admission to a college, scholarship applications, and much more.
Online reputation management is often thought of as a service for professionals or businesses, but students need to monitor and control their internet footprint as much as anyone. By managing your internet reputation from an early age and learning how to make your online image reflect favorably on you are skills which will continue to be valuable at any age.
Over the past few years, more and more college admissions officers have begun researching applicants online, especially those applying for competitive degree programs or colleges. Admissions officers recently told the Wall Street Journal about examples of using social media sites to evaluate applicants. One admissions counselor told of finding a Facebook post by an applicant bragging about the ease of the admissions process and proclaiming his disinterest in attending the school, even after applying. Needless to say, he was rejected.
First and foremost, students should use common sense when posting anything online. Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace offer privacy protections to secure content and personal information; at the very least, students should be aware of who can view or read material they post. Reviewing your friends or followers on a regular basis is a smart way to keep up-to-date with who your audience is.
Updating privacy information is an easy reputation management technique which can be done by users themselves in relatively short order. Regardless, updates about illegal activities such as drinking or drug use should never be posted, under any circumstances. Also, go through your photos and untag or delete any which may endanger admission to a college or university.
Lastly: Google your name. Google and other search engines (Bing, Yahoo!, Ask.com) are the go-to resources for finding information about an individual. If you’re unhappy with the results that appear, you may want to consult with an internet reputation management service to explore ways to push unfavorable content further down the search engine results page (SERP).
Getting into the college of your choice is stressful and tedious enough already; you wouldn’t want to be denied because of one Facebook photo or Twitter update. Keeping an eye on your online reputation as a student prepares you for doing the same in the professional business world, where reputation really is everything.
Image credits: Top michaeljung / Fotolia; Bottom Viktor Cap / Fotolia.