application process

Can Colleges See Your Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok?

It’s no secret that college admissions officers will take a look at your SAT or ACT score and the rest of your application the moment they get their hands on them. Needless to say, your fate will lie on what they see. And now, you may be wondering if admissions officers will also peek at your social media posts to get to know you more.

Colleges can see posts on social media, such as Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok, if the accounts are not set to private. Up to 25% of college admissions officers check out applicants’ social media presence. Sometimes, they do so if anonymous third parties report troubling online posts by applicants.

You can impress college admissions officers with your test score, GPA, letter of recommendation, and admission essay. You can also wow them with your interests and accomplishments via social media.

What you post online can spell the difference between attending the selective school of your dreams and receiving a devastating college rejection letter. This is why it’s a good idea to check not only your application before sending it but also your social media posts, both recent and old ones.

Continue reading to know more about this matter that many college-bound kids fail to take into account.

Can Admission be Denied Due to Social Media?

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Some admissions officers act based on the applicants’ social media. A 2017 survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) said that 11% of the respondents have denied admission based on online posts. On the other hand, 7% have rescinded an offer.

You may have a stellar GPA and SAT or ACT score alright. However, if some of your social media posts are less than praiseworthy, it may cost you your acceptance, depending on which college you apply to.

According to the same study, almost 75% of college admissions officers who participated said that they take a look at social media as part of the admissions process or review online posts that are brought to their attention. As a matter of fact, a little more than 40% of them will do so if alerted by third parties.

In 2016, an annual phone survey of admissions officers revealed that about a third of respondents from high-ranking colleges and universities said they check social media to assess applicants.

Based on the surveys above, there is no denying that college admissions officers review more than applications. They will also evaluate social media routinely or if necessary before deciding someone’s college fate. Needless to say, it’s not just your application that you should improve to get accepted but your online presence, too.

Should You Delete Social Media to Get Accepted

Deleting social media accounts to increase one’s chances of getting admitted into his or her college of choice isn’t necessary. In most instances, it’s enough to delete questionable posts. Posts that emphasize one’s strengths and interests, on the other hand, may help in the admissions process.

Upon knowing the fact that colleges and universities check out their online posts, many students will go online without delay. This is to deactivate their social media accounts before admissions officers get the chance to see them. This is most true for those who know that many of their online posts can get them into trouble.

The good news is that you don’t have to say goodbye to social media for the sake of college admission.

Getting rid of posts that you aren’t proud of or may rub admissions officers the wrong way is a good idea. However, this can take up lots of your time and energy. This is most true if you post hundreds of times a day.

Fret not because there are a couple of alternative things that you may do:

  • Change your username to one that’s as far away from your name as possible. It’s also recommended to not use your real name when participating in online forums.
  • Set your social media accounts from public to private. Because admissions officers are not among your online friends, they won’t be able to check out your private posts.

Still, it’s recommended that you ditch old posts that could put your chances of getting admitted to a college (or getting employed by a company) in jeopardy. An online contact of yours who is mad at or envious of you may send a screenshot of a controversial post of yours and send it to the school you are applying to.

The following are some other steps that you may take to keep your online presence from getting in the way of your desire to earn a degree from the college of your dreams:

  • Choose a profile picture wisely. It’s not just your old social media posts and shares that you should examine. You should also check your profile picture. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s something that will break the heart of your grandparents, you should change it.
  • Paint the right picture. You may have a decent profile picture alright. But it’s pointless if your timeline is packed with images containing drugs, alcohol, nudity, and offensive symbols. Always keep in mind that a picture paints a thousand words. That’s more than the word count of an admission essay.
  • Remove tags from unfavorable photos. Besides distasteful photos you upload, offensive photos you’re tagged in may be the ones that grab the attention of admissions officers the wrong way. The good news is that most social media platforms allow you to review posts you’re tagged in before they appear on your timeline.
  • Delete nasty comments. Sometimes, it’s not your posts that can alarm admissions officers. Inappropriate comments on your post may also put your admission chances in peril. It’s easy to assume that you agree with a negative or offensive comment if you allow it to remain.
  • Laugh, but be sensitive. A small amount of humor in your admission essay can make you a complete standout. But be careful when posting or reposting jokes on social media. Racist and sexist jokes and other offensive ones may cause admissions officers to pick someone else.
  • Highlight extracurricular activities. One of the most important parts of your application college admissions officers will look at is your list of extracurricular activities. A wonderful way to let them know that you talk the talk and walk the walk is by posting your achievements.
  • Show you are serious about going to college. Last but not least, it’s a great idea to let admissions officers know that going to college is an important goal of yours. You can do this by following the school’s page and sharing its post. You may also post updates about your college application.

Just Before You Post on Social Media

Besides your test score, GPA, admission essay, and other things that students submit when applying, college admissions officers might also take a look at your online presence. This is true if it’s a part of their admissions process or someone has asked them to investigate.

It’s because of this why you should clean up your social media. Do this before sending your application. You should keep it clean even after getting admitted. Otherwise, the school might take your admission back.

Above, we established the fact that colleges and universities check out applicant’s social media posts. We also talked about some of the things that you may do to keep your impressive application from being marred by an online mistake that admissions officers find offensive enough to cost you your admission.

Related Questions

Do schools care if you swear online?

Colleges and universities are well aware of the fact that people swear from time to time. This is why they won’t be surprised if they see some swear words on the social media accounts of their students or applicants. However, it’s a different story if a person swears like a trooper.

What does a lack of online presence say about a college student?

A college student without any online presence may either be tech-challenged or doesn’t have anything to share, both of which can be a disadvantage in this day and age. It may also indicate that the college student panicked for some reason and deleted everything.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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