Cleaning House: How to Tidy Up Your Social Media Footprint

In our last blog, we discussed why you should tidy up your social media activity in preparation for college admissions. Now, we’ll tell you how.

As The Telegraph suggests, googling yourself is a good place to start, as it will give you a good idea of what’s out there about you; any material you’ve published on Facebook using the public setting can be found by search engines. Likewise, if your Twitter account is public, your tweets and profile will also be visible to search engines.

Once you’ve seen how you are represented, it’s time to clean up your act . Here are a few useful tips to keep in mind when reviewing your various Facebook, Twitter and any other social media accounts. It’s important to treat these accounts as if they were virtual interviews – in some ways, they are. Ask yourself: “if my Facebook account were the only view the admissions office got of my personality, would I feel confident about my admissions chances?”


  • Set your privacy settings. Pay close attention to who’s allowed to see your wall, your photos, and your likes, as well as who can tag you in photos.
  • Clean up your pictures. For some long-time users, this will mean going back a few years in order to remove everything embarrassing and/or inappropriate. This true of both photos you’ve posted, and photos in which you’re tagged.
  • Start Un-Liking. Make sure you’ve only put your stamp of approval on appropriate content only.


  • Make sure your handle is clean and professional.
  • Delete old, inappropriate tweets. If you find that you’re deleting a lot, you may want to consider shutting down the profile altogether and starting fresh.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what is and isn’t appropriate, this article contains a few good examples of photos best left untagged. And if you’re in need of industrial-grade cleaning material to find and delete everything, the article also contains information about programs like FacebookScrubber (which deletes all your Wall activity) and AllMyTweets (which helps you locate past tweets by making them all available on one page).


Using Social Media to Your Advantage

When used effectively, social media can actually work to your advantage. Follow a college through its Facebook, twitter and blogs, to learn more about what the college offers and to interact with admissions officers. 95% of all colleges reported a presence on Facebook in 2012, ranging from 98% for private research universities to 92% for public research universities, according to the just-released 2013-14 Almanac of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  85% reported a presence on Twitter and 83% on YouTube. In an effort to capitalize on college admissions buzz, LinkedIn recently announced that it’s launching “university pages,” where schools can create profiles allowing current and prospective students to interact with each other.

In addition, use your own social media to communicate to colleges what’s important to you. For example, you might consider posting that album of photos from last summer’s community service trip to FaceBook. Or you could create your own website for the local business you’ve started, and then use twitter to promote it.

Remember – it’s often good to have a presence online, as long as that presence reflects the right things about you. Facebook and Twitter can provide an extra lens into your life and personality that don’t necessarily come through on a college application (that’s why admissions officers are interested in the first place); you can make a bad impression, or a good one. At any rate, it’s good practice for the future, as you’ll soon need to use LinkedIn to find internships and jobs.

For more tips on how to use social media to help bolster your chances of admission, have a look our previous blog, You Are What You Tweet: The Role of Social Media in College Admissions. And contact