Tips for Using Social Media in Your College Search
Published on Aug 8, 2018 by Ali Datko
Ready to embark upon your college search? If so, social media is a simple and effective tool that can aid in your pursuit.
For all the warnings about how YOU should be using social media to impress prospective schools, there’s also a lot to be said about how schools can (and should) use it to communicate with potential applicants like you. Here are some tips to help you use social media in your college search.
Interested in a specific school? Want an overview of the kinds of events held on and near campus? Check out the school’s Facebook page. See what people are saying in the comment sections. Check out their photo and video galleries (and be sure to look at tagged photos, too).
Also important to note: Don’t just visit the school’s primary page. Delve into the pages of departments and organizations on campus you might like to join once you’re there. This will help you get a feel for what daily life would be like not for the average student, but for you specifically — an individual with your own unique blend of career goals and creative preferences.
In a guide for The New York Times, social consultant Sree Sreenivasan describes the key ways to use Twitter to your advantage. “The instantaneous nature of Twitter,” he explains, “means you are able to know in real-time about developments in areas of your interest” and “share, comment and be part of a global conversation that extends beyond people you are friends with.”
Let’s break that down. By following a college on Twitter, you can keep updated about events happening on campus. And by actively engaging — whether you’re replying to tweets or participating in hashtag-driven discussions — you can feel out stronger connections with people at the school to see if those interactions seem right for you.
While it’s true that Instagram tends to deliver a filtered view of the world, it also gives users a big-picture view of a brand’s (or school’s) ethos and aesthetic.
Try this: Go to a school’s main Instagram account. See what kind of posts occur over and over. Are there patterns? If you’ve got a case of wanderlust or a desire to learn about new cultures, you might be drawn to an account that highlights alumni photos from around the world. If you’re hoping for a vibrant on-campus experience, you may prefer accounts sporting school colors and smiling faces.
Keep this perspective in mind when viewing Instagram Stories, too. For instance, what kinds of videos does the school post? Can you picture yourself in them one day?
“LinkedIn works best when you use it as a career management tool,” writes Sreenivasan. “The key is to find, approach and connect with folks you already know, folks you’d like to know and folks you should know.”
As someone who’s just beginning your career and college planning, it’s best to look for connections who can provide you with general guidance. Interested in attending a particular university? Ask (professionally) to connect with alumni or faculty with whom you share similar affiliations, or who describe themselves as having an interest in networking or mentoring.
Keep in Mind
Remember that while social media is a great way to supplement your college research, it won’t provide all the details you need. It is, however, a great way to narrow your search or to find out more about a school you’re already interested in.