If you have teens going to colleges, search their social media footprint.
For years, I’ve told my social media classes that colleges and scholarship committees do social media background searches. Now, as the parent of a graduating high school senior, I see the ways they use social media to better communicate.
When we tour a campus, I now tweet about it to see if their college administration is listening. So far, half respond. I want my teens to learn to use social media well. If a college leads by example, monitors their own Twitter presence, and replies to my tweets, that’s a plus in their favor. For the colleges that don’t, it’s a potential red flag.
My most amusing moment was at a college day when I checked in on FourSquare and watched the Admissions reception table. I stood by the side and noted when one of the admissions counselors saw the Tweet on her phone. She immediately tweeted on behalf of her college’s admissions office. Then, she grabbed the counselor next to her, they looked me up, and then I could see their scanning the room to find me. I said nothing but nearly exploded with laughter the moment they saw me. Neither of them said a word. But later that day, one of them asked, “Do you use Twitter?”
I was impressed with the school that gave their scholarship weekend a Twitter hashtag to see if any students tweeted about it. And I enjoyed the professors’ banter with that hashtag. About half the colleges she has applied to have made creative use of private Facebook groups to better communicate with students and their parents. (And you know that means they are also screening students and their social media profiles.)
Now, I see it’s also important to flip the search. Last weekend, I started a Hootsuite page to search my daughter’s top college choices.
What’s being tweeted about my daughter’s prospective college choices? Who is tweeting about them?
Here’s what I’ve found in 3 days:
- One college is under pressure to drop certain majors because of declining enrollment. I checked my daughter’s department and preferred major, and it’s not on the list.
- One college has just had student protests because of a professor’s ill-advised, inappropriate use of Facebook.
- Some colleges tweet links to their research studies.
- Lots of students love their college’s sports teams and live tweet during games. And they hate it when their teams lose.
- Some professors require students to tweet and do an excellent job of engaging students in online conversations.
- Some colleges promote their career fairs via Twitter. (a very good thing)
- Some college students blog about stupid things their classmates say in class.
- Some college students hate the cafeteria food. (Imagine that.)
Colleges do social media background searches to see if a student’s test scores, transcript, scholarship essays, and interviews reflect what the students say and do on social media. I think that’s a good thing.
Parents need to do social media background searches on prospective colleges to ensure that the gorgeous brochures and weekend tours match what is happening on campuses.