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A RECENT trend among colleges and employers show that many consider how an applicant appears on social media. Although many students at Townsend Harris have yet to see this affect them, they should be prepared, as it is likely they will experience this in the future.
With technology at the palm of their hands, many students engage daily with social media. Posting funny pictures, talking with friends, and checking up on family are all primary reasons one would make a social media account. However, recently, institutes and employers have used these platforms to learn more about their potential applicants.
Freshman Elizabeth Duchan understands why organizations may want to take a look into the personal lives of their potential students or employees, as she says, “I feel that whatever you say on social media can be used against you, and it is your responsibility to take ownership of content. If somebody happens to post content that’s not acceptable for a high-achieving school, moderators have every reason to let that change their viewpoints, especially since colleges care largely about the motives and aspirations of applicants.”
Sophomore Sarah Ahmad feels similarly about the situation, stating, “It could be a matter of reputation for the job to see if you’re responsible enough for it or not. If the college admission offices were to see any inappropriate behavior or posts, they may not be in your favor and would probably be more hesitant to accept you. ”
Physics teacher David Stern explains that social media “only shows the highlights of a person’s life, the good parts. It would not show them studying or their grades, the things that can really display a person to the fullest.”
Sarah elaborates, “Judging a student’s capabilities based on what they want to share with their peers online can lead to the college missing out on well rounded student, and the student missing out on the education of their desires.”
Junior Zayyan Alamgir often uses social media as a medium to express his own personal opinions and views on a variety of topics. He explains, “I got in trouble, not because of any vulgar language, but because my parents were looking out for me. I ranted about the laziness of many political leaders in the past few years and they were afraid that powerful people and other officials would take my post in the wrong way. So I deleted them in order to make my family less tense.”
Many students who share Zayyan’s frustrations have found a way around the issue. Sarah recommends that students create a separate private profile on social media accounts as a precaution to avoid these issues. Most refer to these types of accounts as a “finsta,” or in other words, a fake or second instagram. She explains, “These accounts are very limited to who can follow you (usually only accepting people you’re close with) so that you can easily post what you want without having to worry about what others would say.”
Sophomore Salima Ali agrees in saying, “It is a great account to have because it is only for my friends and I do not have to worry about bosses or colleges judging me off of it.” Many students like Salima and Sarah avoid using their real name so that it is even less likely for colleges or employers to trace accounts back to them.
However, Zayyan prefers to handle the issue by ensuring that his social media accounts promote himself in a reputable manner. He reveals, “I make sure that all the content I post is family appropriate, explicitly stated, and [that] there is no vulgar language or any opinion which expresses anger to specific people.” By retaining a squeaky clean online profile, Zayyan intends for colleges and employers to “disqualify what they see in my profile and look at real qualifications; my extracurriculars, SAT’s, grades, and dedication to everything I love to do.”
Dean Robin Figelman also agrees with the idea of filtering what you post on social media.
She remarks, “What you put on the internet is always going to be out there even if you delete it, [so] be smart in what you post and think before you put yourself out there.”
Ms. Figelman stresses the importance of keeping yourself safe on the internet and even suggests that “students should have to take a course [in using the internet and social media safely].”