Online Activities that Impress College Admissions

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This post is an excerpt from our Digital Citizenship Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for educators, law enforcement officers and parents to openly discuss issues and solutions for helping students shine in the digital world. All of the content from the Digital Citizenship Conference is available as a Virtual Replay Ticket.

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Here are the experts who contributed to this blog:

Sonja Montiel

Sonja Montiel
Ed. Consultant
College Confidence

Karyn Koven

Dr. Karyn Koven
Director
HighTech LA

Reina Bejerano

Reina Bejerano
Director
Oxnard Union HSD

Jacob Kantor

Jacob Kantor
Sales Director
Revolution Prep

Zahir Robb Head of School STAR Prep Academy

Zahir Robb
Head of School
STAR Prep Academy

Chloe Reid

Chloe Reid
Dir Development
USC

Online Activities that Impress College Admissions

College admissions experts share which online activities have a positive impact on the college admissions process

Here are some key takeaways from the Online Activities that Impress College Admissions panel:

  • Understand the importance of a positive digital footprint
  • With more and more colleges checking the digital footprint of their applicants, it’s becoming crucial to understand your search results as a student. Parents and educators should start a dialogue with teens that highlights the importance and permanent nature of their digital footprint.

  • Own your search results
  • As a student, the best way to ensure that you will have a positive digital footprint is to create a personal website with a resume or portfolio. Also, don’t be afraid to ask someone to remove a photo, that you are in, if you think it negatively impacts your online presence.

  • Create two personal stories
  • Colleges are concerned with different factors of potential candidates, which is why it is imperative to create two personal stories. The first story should highlight your academic achievements, while the second story should include your unique qualities and skill sets.

This year, a Kaplan Test Prep study states that roughly 40% of college admissions officers are looking at social media of college candidates. –Chloe Reed, University of Southern California

 Parents: Learn about our new Parent/Student Social Media Bootcamp event 

What does the admissions process look like?

We need to help students celebrate their achievements and get them online so that college admissions officers can see them. –Sonja Montiel

Every institution has their own variation on requirements and their own quirky personalities as to what factors are the most important, but what you need to do is submit two stories. The first story is the academic story: your GPA, test scores, and the rigor of your course. This story is not about whether or not you are “good enough,” but whether or not you can succeed in that college’s classrooms. The second story is the personal story. This is where I believe that things have drastically changed in the admissions landscape. Your personal story should include personal qualities, characteristics and skill sets. Admissions officers want to see evidence that supports your personal story. –Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

With the internet, there are so many opportunities to research and virtually visit a lot of different campuses all over the U.S. –Dr. Karyn Koven

There are over 4,000 4-year colleges in the U.S. and there are a lot of different options, not just the ones that the student applicant have heard of. It is important to remember that there is not just one answer in the process of applying to colleges. With the internet, there are so many opportunities to research and virtually visit a lot of different campuses all over the U.S. –Dr. Karyn Koven, HighTech Los Angeles

What should parents be thinking about as it relates to contemplating their kid’s online presence? What are some ways that our children can create images or messaging that is positive?

Whatever your kid puts out there on the internet, it stays out there. It never goes away. –Reina Bejerano

Your digital footprint is very important to the college admissions process right now. Whatever your kid puts out there on the internet, it stays out there. It never goes away. So, twenty or thirty years from now, those things can be found. Consider asking your kids, “How do you want people to remember you? What do you want online?” Once you post it, it’s out there. Have a dialogue with students and with your own children to stress what a digital footprint is and how important it is for their future. –Reina Bejerano, Oxnard Union High School District

Let students know that what they put online should be positive. –Zahir Robb

Let students know that what they put online should be positive. Encourage your students to celebrate the positive things and help to cultivate a positive presence online. In terms of curating your online persona, build a website with an online portfolio or resume so that when you search for yourself you have control over those search results. Upload photos and videos to your webpage, for instance, if you are a musician upload audio clips, if you’re a writer add some of your best papers. Next, ensure that your website is visible to admissions officers. ZeeMee is a great app that can help you share information about yourself and they have now partnered with the Common App , which is used by a number of the top schools in the country. The Coalition consists of approximately 90 different selective universities around the country who are encouraging students to start uploading papers at an early age where the individual universities can give feedback on their work and let them know what they need to do to be more competitive. –Zahir Robb, STAR Prep Academy

Authenticity is huge. It’s very obvious to college admissions, when they check social media and see 8 clubs added in 12th grade, that your intention of being involved isn’t consistent. Ask yourself, “am I consistent with the way that I am contributing to my communities and my groups?” Since we have raised teens to be humble, they may feel uncomfortable sharing their achievements online. So we need to help students celebrate their achievements and get them online so that college admissions officers can see those great accomplishments. –Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

Students often overlook incorporating care-taking activities in their online presence. Sometimes students are responsible for taking care of younger children or older grandparents. For some students it’s working at their jobs and they think that it doesn’t count as an achievement, but it does. It shows responsibility and commitment when a student’s online presence highlights what they do over time, and isn’t just every Christmas they do something for the homeless. –Dr. Karyn Koven, HighTech Los Angeles

To help your students find the perfect college, look at which schools match their interests and their personal statement. –Jacob Kantor

There is a great fit for every student out there. To help your students find the perfect college, look at which schools match their interests and their personal statement. –Jacob Kantor, C2 Education

What if we find negative things on our students? How do we go about dealing with those negative posts or negative comments about our students? How do we get involved? How do we help?

It’s important to search online and be aware of what is being said about you or what you have said. Tell your students to be proactive and to be upfront about what is going on. Tell someone if you don’t like a photo that is posted of you and make sure that you don’t post about someone else online. Always get permission to tag someone and post something. –Zahir Robb, STAR Prep Academy

If you could give one piece of advice to a parent regarding online admissions, what would it be?

As you watch your student or your child take initiative, which is really exciting, help them document some of it but be gentle about it. You want to start to create—whether it is a website, a YouTube channel, or an e-portfolio—evidence to support your student’s thoughts and feelings about their skills and attributes. Then help students document that evidence. –Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

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One Response to Online Activities that Impress College Admissions

  1. Academic Tips October 31, 2016 at 2:47 am #

    This is an extremely useful insight into the college admission process. A need to curate one’s online persona is a brand new concept which is gradually becoming a part of every life, however at this point it still needs to be reminded of. The practical advice part of this article is a must-read for every college applicant.

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