Whether you are applying to Graduate School or your first entrance into university life, colleges care about what image you project to the world and one way they see this, other than your application materials, is by searching you on the Internet. This not only applies to colleges but young professionals seeking professional growth as well. The Social Web offers plenty of ways for one to promote or destroy ones reputation, so make sure you are staying clear of the following:
1. Post a picture of you doing a keg stand as your Facebook Profile Picture. Some people are really that naive to the fact that college admission boards can and will try to find you on Facebook. Depending on your privacy settings they may not be able to see your photo, but where there is a will there is a way. So, take down the picture of you making out with your significant other, dancing on a table or chugging a beer. This goes for Myspace or any other generally used social network. Be smart about the information you post on Facebook. Ask yourself, would you want your Grandmother to see this?
2. Tweet about how irresponsible you are. College is about leaving home and proving to the world you can stand on your own two feet. This is a young adults chance to show the world that they have their priorities straight despite the lack of parental supervision and guidance that comes with the new phase of you life. Tweeting about how belligerent you were at last night’s party is not something colleges want to see. Remember, you are what you Tweet so Tweet Smart on Twitter.
3. Post contradictory information on your LinkedIn Profile. This most likely applies more to those applying to graduate school because there is not much return for high school students using LinkedIn at that early stage in life. Nevertheless, many colleges make you send in a resume or some proof of what jobs or positions you have held throughout your young life. If the dates and information on this form do not match what you have on your LinkedIn profile, you are perceived to be lying about something. No college wants to let in dishonest people as academic dishonesty is a huge issue that leads to expulsion in many cases. Make sure all your information is consistent across the board on all your profiles, especially LinkedIn.
4. Act Like An Idiot on YouTube. This depends on context. Many idiots on YouTube are strategically being idiots because being an idiot is sometimes silly and being silly is marketable on YouTube. However, there is a difference. If you are the guy on YouTube smashing beer cans on your head with you name associated to the video, make sure you remove those ties. While the ability to smash beer cans on your forehead may be a huge asset to your party plenty social circle, it is a huge liability to colleges. College Boards will not be amused.