Online Image and Admissions
College and Grad School Applicants – Maintain a Favorable Online Presence
How Can Cyber-trash Affect You in the College and Grad School Admissions Process
By Claudine Vainrub, Principal of EduPlan
The savvy college and grad school applicant nowadays is an avid user of the Internet. But do you know that the internet can make or break your chances for advancement? Have your asked yourself: Is my web presence favorable? Can it hurt me? If you doubt it for a minute, you might be dealing with a case of Cyber-trash… There might be pictures published online or comments you have made not anonymously, which can hurt you when seeking college and graduate admissions. Sometimes, it can be very hard to erase online content, so the smart thing to do is not to publish online anything that could ever hurt you. Sounds hard, but we are referring mostly to pictures that are not favorable to you, or that could embarrass you in front of an admissions committee or employer.
Just a couple of weeks ago, eSchool News published an article regarding the National Association for College Admissions Counseling – NACAC’s recent survey on using Facebook as part of the admissions process. Approximately 25% of colleges and universities admitted to researching prospective students within social networks including Facebook, MySpace and others, before extending admissions and scholarship offers. After all, they explain that no one wants to provide a scholarship to a student to later find out that they have pictures on the internet of them drinking and trashing institutions. Just this year, there was a case of an applicant who raised red flags regarding behavior. His decision was revoked after the university found online pictures of the student portraying guns. If this student’s intentions were benevolent, and there were truly no grounds for concern, his online image portrayed otherwise. His pictures spoke a thousand words to the admissions committees, who judged him with these materials as a pivotal part of his application.
This is happening every day more, as we do not realize that the message portrayed on the internet can have great impact in our lives. In another survey conducted by NACAC in 2007, over a quarter of the participating universities expressed that admissions decisions could be revoked from finding inappropriate web content on the student.
Colleges and employers want to find respectful content online, and this is an opportunity for a student and job seeker to grasp. Since we know that colleges and employers are looking online for information on us, why not provide great content, information that takes us to the next level. A web resume and favorable web presence can give us that edge that we need to turn a waitlist decision in our favor.
A personal website can also provide opportunities to not only post your resume but also include a Bio, work samples and other tools that demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the Career you seek. Creating a blog on discussion topics that genuinely interest us can also allow universities and employers to see our analytical capabilities, even if their opinions differ with ours.
Getting online presence nowadays, especially the online presence you want becomes crucial. If you haven´t googled yourself yet, others probably have. Do you know what information they are finding on you? As stated in The Wall Street Journal, another survey conducted by Kaplan had 38% of colleges researching students express that what they saw “negatively affected” their views of the applicant. “Only a quarter of the schools checking the sites said their views were improved”, explains the WSJ.
In a time when we all search online, it is wise to ensure what others find about you is what you want them to find. A web resume, contributions to professional blogs, articles on special topics related to your career – GOOD! A picture of you drunk in the last Spring break party, questionable comments, personal innuendo – NOT FAVORABLE…
To take control of your college and graduate school admissions process, and achieve your goals, building your online identity is a key factor you do not want to ignore.