Do Colleges Look At Social Media?

In a world that judges you not just based on first in-person impressions but also your online impressions, it is very obvious that the best way to find out about someone through the online medium is to look at their social media. And while a lot of you make use of social media to stalk an ex-best friend or an ex-partner or just someone interesting you meet every day; some places make use of it to make a qualitative assessment of potential candidates. Yes, you read that right- people in your professional life have probably seen your social media account if it’s public! Even college admission officers take social media presence into account- while they do take a look at your profile if it is public, they don’t have any kind of high-end technology that’ll help them look at a profile if it’s private. Now that you know that they do check it if it’s public, you’re probably wondering why and what you can do to make it look ideal for the admissions officer. Read on to find out why colleges do look at social media.

Do Colleges Look At Social Media?

Do Colleges Look At Social Media?

But why? What Do Colleges Expect to See on My Account?

Let’s be honest here- colleges give a lot more weight to look your admissions essay and your transcripts than they do your social media profile. They’re not going to make a big deal out of your profile unless there is some seriously notorious behaviour that catches their eye. So if you’ve got a decent profile that doesn’t give way to the investigation, you’re good to go.

A notable instance in this regard is the 2017 incident at Harvard University, where the university had rescinded the admissions offers of 10 incoming first-year students after they had found out that they were spreading hateful anti-community posts in a private Facebook chat. It had done the same in 2019 two years later when a semi-famous admittee had their offer taken back when it had come to the admissions office’s notice that the student was spreading racist remarks over social media.

But as already mentioned, nothing that isn’t horrendous will affect your application at any point in time. But still, these officers use your social media profiles to gain significant insight into who you are. It would help them to ensure that they maintain the diversity of the campus while not compromising on the quality of the students they admit.

What Should you be Careful Not to Post About?

It’s quite obvious what passes off as bad behaviour and what you should avoid doing, but here’s some general stuff about what you should avoid outright.

  1. Evidence of illegal activity or underage drinking: While people tend to think that having a public social life might dampen their chances of going to a good school, that doesn’t quite hold well. Colleges are always looking for well-rounded individuals who have a 360-degree view of life, which will help them have a vibrant campus. So, there’s nothing wrong with one too many party photos and selfies from high school parties, as long as they don’t make you look like a daredevil who’s willing to dance with the limits of the law.
  2. Offensive language: All colleges are looking for students with strong opinions who are more than willing to stand for what they believe in. They love to see bold and outspoken students who regularly engage in debate and maybe even a protest at times. But remember, all of this is admissible only for as long as you don’t offend anyone and hurt their feelings. Always ensure that you don’t engage in libel and to achieve this, keep the disparaging comments off of social media and remember that at all times, any offensive pictures or posts will be off-limits.

If you’re thinking about how to assess what is too much for your profile, remember the thumb rule- if it’s not something you’d share on a public professional forum, it’s not something that should be on your public profiles as well.

What Should you Make Sure the Admissions Officer Sees?

Even though keeping private profiles is a safe choice to eliminate any sort of danger of having your account scoured by a doubting eye, what most people don’t understand is how you can leverage your social skills to make yourself look as desirable as possible to an admissions officer. Some even admit to having a positive impression of the prospective student when given a view into who they are outside of their essay.

A few ways for you to do that are as below:

  • If you’ve dropped in mentions about volunteer work or any milestone in your application essays, make sure to have at least one or two photos or posts about that to support yourself and look authentic.
  • Show as much interest as possible in college and your target schools.
  • Make your passions public and make them look as endearing as possible.
  • Share a few highlights about your social or personal life, which would count as wholesome. Everyone loves to see the human side of people.
  • Don’t stop right after you apply. Ensure to keep going so that you don’t seem like you’ve fabricated a profile to attract an admissions officer’s eye.


When you read about students being rejected by colleges or having their accepted admissions rescinded because of reckless social media posts, it is natural to think of shutting down all your social media accounts or going private. That may even be a safe option!But it is always a good idea to get out of playing it safe and make yourself as open-minded as possible. This also extends to your social media presence. Learn how to make yourself look good on your profile instead of shutting yourself out of it. If you close your accounts, you might even lose a chance to make the admissions officer see that you are worth the seat and are more than just another application on their table. So ensure that you take the plunge and make your account look great because your admissions officer is going to love to see it!