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Using Social Media for the College Admission Process

by JoeFantozzi
04/17/15 Bookmark

Joseph Fantozzi Jr. has been a member of the admission counseling team at the City University of New York (CUNY) since 2009. Recently, he has taken on a management role as recruitment coordinator. In this role, he coordinates outreach activities for high school and transfer students throughout the New York Metropolitan area while fostering relationships between college counselors/transfer advisors and the University.  Additionally, he oversees all virtual recruitment efforts and social media activities. Joseph has also been an adjunct faculty member at the City College of New York since 2008. He is an active member of National Associate for College Admission Counseling, the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling and the College Board. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in music from The Boston Conservatory.


It seems as if social media has been a part of all our lives forever. Believe it or not, Instagram was founded less than five years ago and Twitter has only been around for nine years. Facebook is the veteran of the major trio, officially launching 11 years ago. YouTube now has 1 billion users and has taken the place of TV in many teenagers’ habits. While these platforms can seem juvenile at times, they have quickly crept their way into the culture of higher education and can be a great resource for you and your students. Statistics show that more than half of students use social media to decide where to enroll in college, so it’s essential that they know what they are looking for and how to interpret it.

Getting to know a college through their social media accounts can provide a unique perspective into an institution’s culture that some of the more traditional research methods cannot. If used correctly, it can be another great tool in student’s quests.

Time Magazine’s recent article “How High School Students Use Instagram to Help Pick a College”, offers examples directly from students on how they used social media to research schools.

Top 8 ways to use Social Media in your College Search:

1)      Typically a college will have more than one account on each platform. Explore all of them to get different viewpoints and a variety of information. For instance, follow admissions, student affairs and that theater club you wanted to be a part of.

2)      Pay attention to hashtags and use them to aggregate information about a particular event on campus. Curious about what freshman orientation looked like last year? There is probably an entire story detailing that event waiting for you on Instagram, like - #freshmanorientation

3)      Look beyond the typical social media platforms to engage. Most colleges host virtual events that are engaging and can almost be as effective as an interview or a campus visit!  For example:  College Week Live and PrepTalk are both easy-to-use platforms that host live chat sessions with many colleges and universities across the country.

4)      Pay close attention to the way students are interacting. Are they engaged and happy with campus life?

5)      Visiting a college is the ideal experience, but viewing a college’s YouTube channel can be a good second option. Student interviews, campus tours and program highlights are at your fingertips.  The CUNY Undergraduate Admissions channel has videos on many of its colleges, housing, and student stories outlining their experiences.

6)      Ask questions.  Engage Us.  Demonstrate your interest!

7)      Ask the college if they have any communities available to you. If so, join them! This could mean being a part of Facebook group or even a private social network.

8)      Social Media is another tool for you to use to research colleges and should be treating that way. It is not the end all be all in the same way a viewbook isn’t. Think of it as another piece to the puzzle to finding the best fit.

A college might want to follow you, now what?

Simply put, if you are proud of your social media activity and think it might be an asset to your application, definitely approve that request. If not, simply keep your accounts private.

How to Communicate:

Even though social media is a casual platform, you still want to give off the best impression about yourself. Avoid slang whenever possible.  If tweeting, you are obviously limited to 140 characters, so if you cannot say it correctly in that restriction, it is probably not the best platform to ask your question.

What to communicate:

Is your question easily answered by Google? If so, you probably do not need to contact the college. Also, avoid personal questions. If you have extenuating circumstances or want to inquire about your application, it is probably best to pick up the phone or write an email to an admissions counselor. All 25 thousand followers probably do not need to see that you are missing your high school transcript.

Lastly, remember that information you see on social media will generally come from many different perspectives. Take every bit of information that you receive and consider it, but remember that it is not necessarily the entire story. Much like reviews of your favorite restaurant, people will have different opinions and value different things. Comments should be used to assist you in forming your own opinion about an institution and not duplicating someone else’s. 


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