Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Nov. 19, 2014

College Admissions in the Age of Google and Social Media

Co-Founder, Cornerstone Reputation

There is no doubt about it: as a parent there is nothing more intimidating than talking to your kids and worse, set rules, about something they know more about than you do. Unless you’re the CEO of Twitter, technology and social media indubitably fall under this category. But as a wise and social-savvy parent, there are two things you are certainly experts on over your teens and you should feel empowered to talk to them about: getting into college and maintaining your reputation so that you will be respected by others. Maintaining your reputation online isn't so different, it's all founded in good judgment.

Cornerstone Reputation specializes in preparing teens for managing their online reputation throughout high school with the goal of making a strongly positive impression on college admissions officers who search them online. We offer the following tips on how parents can help their kids establish and maintain positive digital reputation with both the focus of having better life etiquette and to prepare for the almost inevitable candidate online search by an admissions officer.

In a process such as the college admission process, where you have no control over so many aspects, tightly grab the horns of the aspects you do have control over! College admissions officers are actively and often searching candidates online. It’s a fact. So why chance it that they might find results about your teen that they don’t like or just find unappealing? Get a Comprehensive Online Readiness Assessment (CORA) score and find out how a college admissions officer would perceive your teen’s online reputation as well as how they stack up to other teens. Get active feedback on how your teen could improve their online reputation for this process with tips on how to discuss the issues at hand. 

It’s hard to believe, but you are actually role models for your teens. How you use your social media and technology has a huge impact on how they think they can use theirs. If you use online venues to rant or vent, they will too. If you use your smartphones at the dinner table, they will too. Institute a family rule where you all turn your phones off during meals so the can be in the moment and appreciate real life.

Follow Cornerstone Reputation’s feeds on Facebook and use the articles we showcase about teen online behavior affecting their college admission successes or failures. We encourage you to discuss these articles with your teens and ask them what they think the teens could have done better.

Colleges will not accept candidates who appear to be too busy posting about the inane to take advantage of the opportunities their college has to offer and perform brilliantly. Equally, admissions officers are concerned about candidates who display judgment issues regarding what they post. Teach your teens about the pick your battle concept. Cornerstone encourages the pick your post concept. Fewer, more profound posts will carry more intrigue and weight to the world than many less thoughtful posts.

Talk about the think before you post and the think before you pose rules of life. Encourage your teens to write what they want to post, put down their phones, come back after three minutes and think about if they really think the world needs to see what they’ve written or photographed. Admissions officers can make swift judgments about what they see and complaining posts or inappropriate photos can undo a perfect application packet.

Talk to your teens about not posting when they’re bored. Talk about posting when they feel creative and want to applaud a peer or showcase something cool and positive they’ve done.

Teach your teens to ask others before they post photos of them and certainly if they can tag others in their photos. In cases where your teens are tagged in photos they wish they weren’t, talk to them about being courageous enough to talk to their peers about offering the same courtesy.

Have your teens make up the rules for social media and phone/computer use that you will hold them to. When they make the rules, they respect them more and will be more likely to comply with the consequences.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr