How to Build a Positive Online Reputation for Scholarship Applications

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.

Here are the experts who contributed to this blog:

Dan Konzen

Dan Konzen
Campus Chair
University of Phoenix

Tim Martin

Tim Martin
Huntington Beach PD

Heidi Swanson

Heidi Swanson
Internship Coordinator
Chapman University

Sonja Montiel

Sonja Montiel
Education Consultant
College Confidence

How to Build a Positive Online Reputation for Scholarship Applications

Learn how to build a positive online reputation for scholarship applications

Here are some key takeaways from the Positive Online Reputation for Scholarship Applications panel:

  • Learn how to refine your Google searches
  • While aggregators and social media can be helpful tools in the scholarship search process, nothing beats Google. Learn how to refine your Google search results to specific sites, like .edu university pages. To do this use “site:edu” in the Google search bar, like this: “site:edu scholarship application.”

  • Athletic scholarships go beyond your athletic talent
  • Since so many universities use athletics as a way to market themselves to future students, students with an athletic scholarship are seen as a representation of the university. You can no longer rely on athletic skill alone because universities are searching online to validate whether or not that student will be a positive representation of their school.

  • Keep a running list of accomplishments
  • It’s helpful for students to keep a running list of their accomplishments. When it comes time for students to create their resumes and build their online portfolios they can reference the specific things that they’ve done. Also, students should keep links that regard their accomplishments.

How do we even engage in the scholarship search?

There are some aggregators like the and stuff through social media sites. I think the important thing when approaching scholarships is to go beyond the aggregator search and do a proper search in Google. You can search not only across the web, but if you refine your search in Google to very specific sites including .edu university servers and organization servers such as .org sites. –Dan Konzen, University of Phoenix

How does social media affect an athlete’s ability to engage with a college coach?

It goes beyond just your athletic skills and goes into morals and values. Even if you are the most talented player out there, if you are tweeting inappropriate things or which party you are at in high school, they are not going to want you to represent their university. Athletics are a huge way that many universities market to their students, so it’s important for them to be able to award scholarship money to someone who is not only talented but holds themselves to a high moral code. –Heidi Swanson, Chapman University

How can kids be aware of how social media is used from a privacy standpoint?

Be proactive and know what it is that you post. Whether you have your settings marked private or not, all they are is just a “setting” so it’s easy to peek behind the curtain. –Dan Konzen, University of Phoenix

Do you have any good stories that demonstrate how social media and online reputations can change a student’s opportunities for college?

I worked with a student who came to me in December and she was devastated that she had been denied by Stanford. When she showed me her application, she had everything perfect. It was a beautiful application with a great SAT score, extremely high GPA, great list of activities that was significant and unique. I found out that this student also led a TED-X talk and that she helped create an online course with the U.S. Department of Education, but that she had not showcased those details in her application. So I worked with her to build a new application with all of those details and it helped college administrators see her immense value. She then got into the five of the six schools that she applied to next. –Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

I would stress the importance of students keeping a running list of all of their accomplishments because you forget about things as time goes by and keeping a list helps you pinpoint all of the different specific things that you have done. Also, try to keep a list of the URLs to any links that are important for you regarding those accomplishments. This is important for students to do as they go out into the real world after college as well. –Dan Konzen, University of Phoenix

Are there ways to separate platforms for business and academic purposes and then for friend and family purposes?

Students need to realize that private accounts can be made public. –Dan Konzen

Yes, I think you should have multiple platforms for different purposes. I wouldn’t check-in where I am eating on LinkedIn, but I might post that information on Facebook so my friends know where I am. It’s good to have those separate accounts, but at the same time students need to realize that those private accounts can be made public so you want to make sure that the information is not inappropriate in any way. –Dan Konzen, University of Phoenix

Private accounts cannot protect kids from sharing private information on the Internet. –Tim Martin

Kids are smarter than their parents when it comes to social media. They have their separate accounts, but even private accounts cannot protect kids from sharing private information on the Internet that they would rather not share. If a kid is out drinking with friends at 17 and they post a photo to their private account, that doesn’t mean it will stay private. One of their friends can like that photo and re-share that photo publicly on their own account and now that “private” post is very public. Or when you hashtag things, it becomes public and open source and kids do not realize that. –Tim Martin, Huntington Beach Police Department

What should be on a kid’s video in terms of athletic scholarships?

Let your highlight reel speak for itself. –Heidi Swanson

Keep it brief and to let your highlight reel speak for itself. If you are a star player and you are getting interviewed for track, make sure that you can represent yourself well because that footage can be shared. There is an app called Recruit Me and it’s a QR so students and players can now have QR codes on their business cards that streamline the process by allowing the coaches to access an introduction and clip reel. Be aware of how you are representing yourself. –Heidi Swanson, Chapman University

What are some of the best scholarship tools?

Working with teens, I have seen a number of new tools come out that can help with the scholarship and application process. ZeeMee is a tool where high school students can create rich online portfolios with photos, videos, blog posts, etc. Everything is in one place, one profile, and it automatically links with college applications and it can even lead to other opportunities. Another option is the Coalition where 90 top universities are participating and it allows students to directly link to media files. –Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

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