How to Improve Your Digital Footprint for College

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September 21, 2016

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

How to Improve Your Digital Footprint for College an Expert Guest Blog SmartSocial.com

We reached out to 5 experts and asked them how college-bound teens can be proactive with their digital footprint[/caption]If you’re a parent or educator of a college-bound teen then, chances are, you understand how important their digital footprint is to the college admissions process. The first step is to ensure that your teen’s digital footprint is a positive representation of themselves and their goals. But with so many social media platforms, conflicting advice, and online opportunities, what’s the next step?

We reached out to 5 college admissions and online reputation experts and asked them how college-bound teens can be proactive with their online presence. Here are their best tips for improving a teen’s digital footprint for the college admissions process.

1. Take initiative and be active on LinkedIn

Kristen Moon, Founder of Moon Prep

Kristen Moon headshot
Kristen Moon

One of the best-kept secrets in the college admissions game is LinkedIn. It's not just for job seekers anymore. Many high school students do not utilize LinkedIn, so by having a profile and being active it will give you an advantage. Think of LinkedIn as a tool that makes your one-page resume come to life. Soccer player? How about posting a video for admission officers to see. Artist? Upload some of your artwork. Tech savvy? Link to your website or graphic design work. Students can connect with admission officers through University Pages, where they can find a wealth of information about each college. Students can also connect with alumni on LinkedIn, through Alumni Groups. In the college admissions world, this is what we call demonstrated interest. This shows the admissions staff you took initiative, are eager to learn more about the university, and are a serious candidate.

2. Practice reputation management

Ed Brancheau, SEO Consultant at Goozleology

Ed Brancheau headshot
Ed Brancheau

Students can improve their digital footprint using the same methods we use for business reputation management. First, you need to find out what is out there online about you or someone else with the same name. Then it becomes a process of removing the negative stuff and actively promoting the positive things about yourself online.

Finally, use social media to your advantage. If you participate in a lot of extracurricular activities, post photos of them all, and be sure to delete anything that could be embarrassing. Sure, things never get deleted off the Internet but you don't have to make it easy for college admissions to find.

3. Tailor social media accounts to express passions

David Kim, Founder of C2 Education

David Kim headshot
David Kim

Social media profiles are double-edged swords in the college admissions process. On one hand, a student who has a passionate interest in photography can express said interest online such as maintaining a unique Instagram account just for photography–an organic, online portfolio. On the other hand, the same student could post only memes as an expression of humor, thereby leaving viewers with the impression that the student has a different passion or lack of one. Any online component of a student's life can be positive or negative; unfortunately, an online post or profile cannot exhibit the intention of the poster and can only take on the qualities that viewers must assume about the poster based on their own impressions. Students should conduct detailed research into a school's policies concerning social media profiles, create separate accounts for personal and extracurricular posts, and tailor specific accounts to express passions, hobbies, and activities.

4. Create “brand building” social media accounts

Justin Lavelle, Communications Director for BeenVerified

Justin Lavelle headshot
Justin Lavelle

Google your name and verify that there aren’t embarrassing or negative stories or photos floating around that would tarnish your image. Consider setting up “brand building” social media pages that focus on your volunteering efforts, community involvement and business development initiatives to share with colleges. Set up a personal website that highlights your accomplishments and post a few well written blog posts there sharing some of your volunteer or other experiences. The link to your personal website will be easy to include in correspondence with colleges.

5. Think about the content before publishing

Jonathan Perkins, Admissions Consultant at Essaywise

Jonathan Perkins headshot
Jonathan Perkins

For the high school seniors I work with, I have instituted the grandma rule. If you have posted something on social media you would be embarrassed to show your grandma, chances are you don't want colleges to see it, either. Consider the grandma rule before publishing anything to social media.


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