College application time is upon us, which means that many families are currently fretting about that worrisome digital footprint left by their children. How exactly are those questionable Instagram selfies going to look to college admissions officers? Especially when statistics, such as a recent survey from Kaplan, confirm that almost 40% of admissions officers say they have checked Facebook and other social networking sites to learn more about applicants, it turns out that the concerns are warranted.
Worse still, other studies suggest that the levels of social media surveillance are much, much higher. One reveals that 86 percent of colleges admitted to researching students’ social media sites.
In other words, teens may want to delete those red solo cup selfies from their Facebook feed before sending out the applications — not to mention all manner of other forms of posts least likely to impress colleges.
But it turns out that while social media can be a liability for some, for certain uses, it can be an incredible asset, often sealing a college-acceptance deal. Research reveals that a third of colleges say that social media shows details about applicants that reflect positively on them and can help lead to acceptance letters.
At the top of the list of what reflects well on Facebook, Twitter and the like? Leadership roles and community service on social media.
“How students choose to serve their community tells a lot about what inspires them and what causes they champion to make an impact,” says Terry Corwin, Executive Director, of Lions Heart, a nationwide volunteer platform that helps tweens and teens find volunteer opportunities. But doing the good deeds isn’t enough. You also need to show colleges how you’re doing them, which is why the volunteer organization recently created its Volunteer Digital Portfolio.
“When students volunteer regularly, you see a transformation. They become champions for their favorite causes, and are at their best,” says Corwin. “We created the Volunteer Digital Portfolio recognizing how the many service projects Members do over their middle and high school years add up and tell the story of what they find meaningful.”
The portfolio service, which is available to Lion Heart’s 570,000+ teen volunteers, was introduced this year. Learn more about Lion Heart’s Volunteer Digital Portfolio and join here.