What Main Line Students Should Consider Before Posting on Social Media

A message for high school students applying to college or parents of teens: be careful what you or your student post online.

“What’s an admissions officer, anyway?”

When I ask this question in my college-prep seminars, the responses vary. A judge. A gatekeeper. That jerk who loves rejecting applicants. The answer is simple: Admissions officers are people—and people accept other people. Never assume they won’t consider a student’s social media presence as part of the evaluation process.

This isn’t just a lesson for high school seniors—or juniors, for that matter. It’s a lesson for any of us with Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter accounts. Even a name search on Google can bring up a host of results. As the online options for self-expression continue to multiply, so do the chances that others will pass judgment. Sometimes young people lose sight of the fact that they may be the information others are trying to access.

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The bottom line: When in doubt, don’t post it. If you did already, delete it—or, at the very least, hide it. Admissions officers are people. People make assumptions about other people. Judgments are quick and inevitable. If there’s a red Solo cup in a picture, don’t share it. Red Solo cups are red flags for alcohol. If an inside joke could be interpreted as offensive to an outsider, it probably is offensive. Your friends may laugh, but the world may not.

Teenagers will fight back. They’ll say their parents are being paranoid, annoying, overbearing. Most of the time, the kids are probably wrong.

Related: How Social Media Impacts Legal Disputes, According to Main Line Area Experts

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