Watch what you tweet: Social media can affect college admissions

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Hey, all you college-bound kids: What’s the easiest thing you can do to impress prospective schools?

It’s not your GPA. It’s not the debate team. It’s your Facebook — and your Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Vine, and any other social media feeds that colleges can see. And yes, they’re looking.
    Get answers to the most important questions about what colleges want to see.
    Should I delete my social media or make it all private?
    Making it private is a good idea anyway. On most social media, a private account means your name won’t come up in search results, and it limits your digital footprint (how much stuff about you is available on the web). You don’t have to delete your accounts, though. Colleges expect prospective students to have social media.
    Do I have to delete every single party pic of me and my friends?
    Because colleges receive so many qualified applications, they’re typically looking at social media to see if it tips the scales in anyone’s favor — not to dig up dirt. Maybe another applicants’ social media just made that person seem like a better match for the school. But if you think a skeleton in your Facebook closet came back to haunt you, you can contact admissions and find out.
    Do my likes, followers, and other indicators of social media popularity help me or hurt me in the college admissions process?
    If you’ve actively pursued a specific passion — say, music, photography, or even the evolution of the shoe from ancient times to present — and you’ve cultivated an active, engaged audience on social media, that’s a plus. College admissions will see that you have drive and initiative. On the other hand, having a big audience for more typical random teen interests, such as internet memes and cat videos, may not even register (and won’t be held against you).

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    Should I groom my social media specifically to look good for colleges?
    Some colleges do want to see social media that’s more rsum-like. You can ask admissions how much it will be considered. For the most part, your social media should reflect who you really are — well, maybe a slightly spiffier you. Make sure you don’t exaggerate your achievements, though! (Colleges fact-check awards and accolades.) You probably won’t be happy at a college that chooses you based on a sanitized, highly curated version of you. But you should demonstrate that you’re aware that someone you want to impress is viewing.

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