Social Media Do's and Dont's

How many millions of individual Facebook pages are there by now? Or is it billions? Personally, I've lost count. It does seem like nearly everyone is a fan of social media. Chances are you are too. Otherwise, why would you be reading this article, right?

So, we've established that social media is popular and fun. But it's also important to remember that sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can reveal facets of your personality that might be misconstrued by scholarship or admissions officials. Comments, attitudes and opinions that might seem clever or funny to you and your friends might easily strike a different chord in someone not as hip and worldly as yourself.

The Internet is rife with stories of students and student athletes who have had their scholarship money yanked away from them for offensive, vulgar or incendiary comments. Don't let this happen to you! Let's take a look at how you can avoid offending people with your massive individuality.

First, it's important to remember that this is not a free speech issue. You are free to say whatever you like just as an organization is free to decide it finds your comments offensive and takes its money back. This is not a violation of your Constitutional rights. The courts have already ruled on this so you forget about any “You'll be hearing from my lawyer” theatrics.

What specifically should you avoid? Anything controversial. Anything sexually inappropriate (or even indiscreet), cyber bullying, racist jokes or banter, sensitive, touchy subjects such as religion (unless it's your own and you're highlighting something positive), race (same caveat applies) or any topical issue in which your opinions could be misconstrued as twerpy and undeserving of support.

If this seems severe that's too bad. You're young. There will be plenty of time to let your freak flag fly. For now your only concern should be advertising that sweet, wholesome, caring you that's lurking under your sleek, snarky online presence.

To get a good idea of what you look like online Google yourself. It's not like you've never done this before. Analyze the results with an unsparing eye. The goal here is two-fold: you want to eliminate your negative presence and highlight your positive presence.

Make sure that the activities you are involved in are mentioned. Sports, hobbies, volunteering, academic or vocational achievements – these are the things you'll want to feature prominently. Keep bragging to a minimum but don't be too honest either.

Remember that whether you are applying for admission to college or petitioning for scholarship money your online presence will most probably be scrutinized. Don't be your own worst enemy. Show the world how much you deserve the attention and recognition you seek.