Back to Kings Life index

US College Admissions: social media red flags

08 Feb, 2016
US College Admissions: social media red flags

The easiest way to lose a space at a prestigious institution is for admissions officers to find something questionable on your social media.

One recent poll reported that more than 40% of responding US universities check into students’ social media regularly as part of the admissions process. As such, students today need to make sure that their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat posts do not reflect negatively on them. The following content will raise red flags with admissions, so be sure that you clean up your social media before you start the admissions process.

Alcohol and drugs

US law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from drinking alcohol, so there should be no evidence of alcohol use on underage students’ social media. Even if you are over 21, multiple photos of booze-fueled parties paint an unprofessional picture of you. Illegal drugs are a dangerous industry and individuals who post pics of drug use on social media can be arrested. International students can also be deported from the US for drug related incidents. Make good decisions and let your social media positively reflect you.


Violent images or language is common in films and video games, but if it appears on your page, admissions officers may think twice about giving you an offer. With the recent violent university tragedies, creating a safe campus is the number one priority for admissions and everyone in the community shares that responsibility.

Offensive language

Watch what you say online. There is no room on diverse campuses for racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia or religious intolerance. Your university career can only be successful if you enter it with an open mind and willingness to embrace difference.

College Admissions look for leaders who communicate eloquently, keep an open mind and present a positive attitude. Instances of profanity in which posts contain multiple “swear words” will make admissions think that you do not have these characteristics. Keep the language “PG” and the tone positive in your posts.

Cyber bullying

Bullying can take many forms, but with social media, individuals can face digital harassment anywhere, anytime. Teasing, negative comments and insults towards others on social media will not be tolerated. Remember, sarcasm and “friendly teasing” may not come across as such online. Be nice and treat others with respect.

Negative comments about the school

The college admissions process can be frustrating, from the long response time from schools during peak periods to lost documents and test scores. Although it is good to blow off steam from this stress, it is not appropriate to take to social media to complain and insult schools you just applied to. Ask your college counselor for help, not the web.

Misrepresenting activities

Admissions officers are also using social media to see if students lied on their apps. Photos of yourself engaged in community service, singing a solo in your school choir or scoring the wining goal can verify your activities section, and may help to make admissions see you as an asset to their campus. But a lack of evidence of your listed activities may cause them to doubt you. Use social media effectively by making it an extension of you, your goals and your accomplishments.