4 Ways to Use Social Media to Get Into College

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – College wannabes can beef up their chances of getting into their top-choice school if they learn how to communicate with colleges on social networks  – and that’s what colleges want to do. But how can you leverage social networking in the best way and ensure you get noticed?

There’s little doubt that social media – especially Twitter and Facebook – have changed the college admissions game, and for the better. A new white paper from the college admissions firm Cappex of 170 colleges says that both students and schools increasingly want to connect via social networking tools. The study reports six key findings in that regard:

  1. The use of social networking is on the rise, though tried-and-true methods such as college fairs still take priority.
  2. The social media tool that admission officers use most frequently is Facebook.
  3. Colleges’ Facebook fan pages are directed at three audiences: prospects, enrolled students, and alumni, and are generally set up to provide campus news and answer questions about the admissions process.
  4. Admissions departments typically post to Facebook at least once per week.
  5. Admissions officers believe that prospective students use Facebook to get a realistic view of what a college is like.
  6. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the biggest benefit of social media for admissions is the ability to connect with students where they are most  comfortable, and the biggest drawback is the time it takes to maintain.

Even smaller schools with more limited budgets can get in on the action. Setting up a Facebook or Twitter account is pretty much cost-free.

But what about students – what’s in it for them? And how can they use social networking to land an "accepted" letter from the school of their dreams?

Here are a few ways to get the most out your university social networking experience:

Do your due diligence. Not all college social networking efforts are the same. So don’t pay as much attention to the school’s website – the Twitter and Facebook accounts are more fresh and dynamic (usually updated at least daily). To get that process going, join a college networking site like CampusHook.com that gives you access to other students, who provide reviews and recommendations on college social networking apps.

Build a personal college networking site of your own. To stand out from the crowd, create your own social networking site – one that tells your personal story. Facebook is the best app for that job. Just make sure that your site is “PG” rated, and that you don’t let any wild party pictures or colorful posts between friends show up on your site. A good rule of thumb: Don’t post anything that your parents or potential employer might object to.

Take the “extra step.” It’s not enough to show your interest in a school by “liking” it on Facebook or following it on Twitter. Get ahead by engaging with your potential school via insightful posts and comments. Those can help build relationships, and relationships can help you get into your “A-List” school.

Produce a YouTube message. Plenty of schools, including George Mason and Tufts, encourage applicants to include YouTube videos that augment their college applications. Like your Facebook page, keep it clean, on point, and positive.

Leveraging the power of social networking for your college admissions campaign is a no-brainer. Use these tips to get a leg up on your competition, and an invite from your favorite school.

—For more tips and tricks on using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to your benefit, visit MainStreet’s “Social Media” topic page for our latest coverage!

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