Seems like everyone is on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube these days, so follows are 10 tips for college-bound teens using social media.
1. Use common sense. Don't friend college admissions counselors or professors, as this is considered unethical and frowned upon.
2. Look the part. More and more high school teens are creating new email addresses and profiles specifically for college admissions purposes. Consider creating a professional email address to be used only for college applications and ensure that any content used on that page is appropriate and deemed professional.
3. Privacy is key. Set all of your social networking accounts to private and maintain your privacy settings. This includes any accounts on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and any other social networking site you may use.
4. Don't look guilty by association. Even if you maintain a private online account, your friends could be saying inappropriate things about you, posting embarrassing photos, or wreaking digital havoc on your future.
5. Stop sharing unsuitable content. Avoid posting inappropriate media to any photo or video sharing website like YouTube. Even if you use a different user name on these sites, there are ways people can trace them back to your email address, so your best bet is to avoid posting things there all together.
6. Avoid oversharing. Don't say anything you wouldn't normally share with a college admissions counselor. Any strong thoughts about politics, religion, etc. could rub somebody the wrong way and potentially smear your online reputation.
7. Do your research. Examine the honor codes of whatever colleges you are interested in attending. Make sure your online persona does not violate anything written within these honor codes because your online reputation can have a negative effect on their admissions decision.
8. Google yourself. This is probably the first thing an admissions counselor will do if they want to find information about you online, so why not be a step ahead of them? By doing a quick online search, you can find some (note: not all) information publicly available. The faster you take care of any questionable content, the better.
9. Generate positive content. Experts agree that the best way to counteract negative content is by generating positive information that will rank high on search engines like Google. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all rank high in Google searches.
10. Use Google/Profiles. The search engine's latest tool allows users to create a personal profile to literally control what people see about them. Visit www.google.com/profiles for more information.
• Bob McDonnell is executive director of Arizona College Planners, L.L.C., a member of the College Planning Network, the National Association of College Funding Advisors and the National Association of College Acceptance Counselors. For questions, email Info@ArizonaCollegePlanners.com.