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The impact of your social media profile on college admissions

A recent addition to the college application process is scrutinizing your social media pages. Consequently, you may have removed questionable status updates and photos, adjusted your privacy settings or deactivated your accounts altogether. However, data from a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey concluded that taking some of these precautions may not be as crucial to your college acceptance as it once was.

Growing acceptance
The survey found that 35 percent of admissions officers have used social media to learn more about their applicants, and 16 percent found information that negatively affected their acceptance—last year, this number was nearly double. The growing acceptance of students' profiles can be attributed to a number of factors. For starters, many people—regardless of their age—use social media. Additionally, more students are aware of the implications of their posted information and have, in turn, more closely monitored what they share.

"As social media has evolved from early versions of MySpace and Facebook to a broad ecosystem of platforms and apps that are a daily part of millions of people's lives worldwide, we're seeing greater acceptance of social media use in the college admissions process,"  Christine Brown, executive director of K12 and college prep programs for Kaplan Test Prep, said in a press release. "This means admissions officers are increasingly open to what they once viewed as a dubious practice, while teens have come to terms with the fact that their digital trails are for the most part easily searchable, followable and sometimes judged."

Play it safe
This increasing acceptance by admissions officers doesn't necessarily mean you should ease up on the consideration with which you give the content on your profiles. It's always better to err on the side of caution when deciding whether or not to post something publicly.

In fact, some students use social media to promote their achievements and grab the attention of admissions officers. According to the social media app Buffer, there are many different strategies people can take when using their profiles for self promotion. It's important to have a healthy mix of content—some of your original posts, a portion of content that you shared from another person's page and a handful of replies on other pages. Additionally, you may want to find some of your top schools on social media and follow them for updates to show just how interested you are in attending. Use social media strategically, and it could actually help your chances of getting into the school of your dreams.