The boundaries of social networking can be a bit murky. While networks like Facebook are meant to help you connect with people, should you really be open to showcasing your after-the-bell-rings life with teachers and college admissions?
As of August 28 in Missouri, the answer “is no.” The Missouri Senate Bill 54 will make it illegal for teachers and students to “friend” or accept friend requests on the network.
But what about college admissions? More and more often admissions people are looking up your online footprint, and the most powerful and frequent gems they find are photos. You’d be surprised how a photo on Facebook or MySpace or Flickr or that new network the kid genius across the street is programming can find its way through the annals of the Internet, and somehow wind up re-purposed and posted to a blog called something you don’t want associated with your name.
We know Facebook is a big part of your life, and people will post pictures of you, and you’ll post pictures of you, so just try to stick to Cappex’s Facebook etiquette Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook for college-bound students:
Indicate any illegal activity
So your friend who goes by BBQ because, in his own words, he ‘”loves BBQ,” had a hook up with some fake ID peeps on the other side of town and got you one. To celebrate, you had an actual BBQ and BBQ bought the beers, and Jenny, who has no filter, took a million bazillion photos of your 17 year old self drinking and posted it immediately to Facebook with the caption “Look at how much fun we can have now!!!”
This is wrong on so many levels. First off, be safe and smart. Second, if those photos wind up under the critical eye of an admissions officer, good luck. There are easy ways to stay out of situations like these: A. Update your Facebook privacy settings B. Don’t take BBQ’s advice. Seriously, we don’t want to bore you with advice that your parents and teachers have probably told you a million times over, but make smart choices. Avoid stupid things and you won’t get stupid pictures online.
Expose too much skin
Perhaps P90x has been doing glorious things for your abs, but capturing your newly toned muscles and posting it to Facebook might not make the kind of impression you want. When you think of college admissions do the words “scantily clothed” come to mind? No. No they don’t. Think of it this way: Academia is about expanding the mind, not showing an inappropriate amount of flesh. Dress to impress. Or, at least keep your clothes on.
Parade your PDA
Love is a beautiful thing. From the inside. From the outside, it’s kinda annoying to watch. Keep your kisses off the Internet for the sake of humans as well as for your chances of getting into your dream school. It’s not simply that your public display of affection is annoying to watch, it’s also that a lot of PDA photos can show admissions people your lack of judgment on what you choose to display about yourself not just fleetingly in public, but permanently online.
Be overly negative
Nobody likes a sourpuss. Having pictures with negative comments about other people or ideas just shines more brightly on your intolerance. College life is about expanding your worldview, so too much negativity in your photos might dissuade admissions counselors from rooting for you.
Humbly displaying the pictures that your mom took of you accepting the award for Student of the Year is a great thing for an admissions person to stumble upon. It could really bring to life that little line in your application where you wrote “Student of the Year”.
Share your travels
Your backpacking trip through Europe demonstrates how you’re an explorer and student of the world. The fact that you’ve traveled illustrates to admissions officers that you are open to new experiences and ideas.
Display your passions
Just like travel photos, photos of your paintings, dancing, acting, athletics or musical ability adds to your application by showing you as a well-rounded, passionate student. Any activity takes time and practice–both of which are great qualities in a student.
Show your service
A picture of the before and after of that house you helped construct for a family in need or you canning for a good cause illustrates that you are willing to give your time to others in need.
So those are the Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook etiquette for college-bound students. But just keep in mind, you don’t need photos of yourself doing good things, winning awards, or walking across the Great Wall of China to get into college. This is just advice for those who are stuck on having pictures online that people, such as admissions counselors, could come across. If you want to be 100% sure that a college is making a choice about you based on your application and your application alone, clean up your online footprint.
What’s your experience with Facebook and applying to colleges? Share your feedback and thoughts by leaving a comment below.