A few months ago, we posted about the ways in which you can use social media as a student to attract the attention of the elite schools that you aspire to attend. Ivy League and other top-tier institutions use social media and, for many schools, they have become another way to vet applicants who have met a school’s standards for test scores and academic records.
Of the major social media sites, LinkedIn has become the principal site through which you can exert a potentially incremental measure of influence. Apply the axiom that you should “leave no stone unturned” and be proactive by setting up your free LinkedIn profile.
Those familiar with social media tend to view LinkedIn as the site through which professionals network with peers as well as organizations in their field. Individuals profile themselves by describing what position they currently hold, what they’ve done, their education and memberships, and other relevant information. LinkedIn for college-bound high school students is more focused on what you plan to do than on what you’ve done.
LinkedIn has always allowed colleges, as organizations, to set up profiles on its site. To encourage students to participate, LinkedIn dropped the minimum age of participation from 18 to 14 in 2014. At the same time, they redesigned the college profile pages to meet the needs of the rising tide of motivated and web-savvy college applicants. “We were seeing that students and recent graduates are LinkedIn’s fastest growing demographic,” said Josh Clemm of LinkedIn. “We want to encourage students to start thinking about their careers earlier on. LinkedIn is not just for people with careers who are already in their jobs. We wanted people to be able to think about their career at its starting point.”
Most colleges, including the Ivy League schools, are on LinkedIn. They’re there to encourage your engagement, as a potential applicant, with insiders such as faculty, alumni, students, and administrators, with the exception of admissions officials. You shouldn’t invite admissions officials to be connections on LinkedIn because they may consider it intrusive. A link to your LinkedIn profile will be included on your application so that an admissions official can refer to it is they so choose.
In your LinkedIn profile, be sure to include your AP classes, electives, extracurricular activities, participation in programs and events, memberships, and other relevant information. Focus attention on your interests and talents, especially the one which you regard as your “hook”. Your hook is the interest or talent that you’ll be promoting most heavily as a way to distinguish yourself in the academically competitive fields of applicants at your targeted schools.
You may be reluctant to set up your own LinkedIn profile because you’re not sure what message you should convey. If so, there’s a growing cottage industry of firms that set up LinkedIn and other social media sites for students. If you only select one site to outsource for development, make it LinkedIn. Other social media, with the possible exception of Twitter, are less pertinent to a college’s interest in you. Unfortunately, some media, such as Facebook, have as high a potential to affect a student negatively as positively if not used correctly.
As usual, controversy surrounds the use of LinkedIn by students. A New York Times article on November 5 by Natasha Singer stated the following:
“But the phenomenon of ambitious high school students on LinkedIn also demonstrates how social networks are playing a role in the escalation of the college admissions arms race. For students in high-pressure schools who already start packaging themselves for college in ninth grade, LinkedIn could add yet another burden to what might be called the careerization of childhood.”
Negative comments like this are common in the context of admissions to highly selective colleges. But they beg the question, “What can you do about it?” You can ignore or underemphasize potential tiebreakers such as essays, recommendations, interviews, hooks, and, yes, your online presence, but only at your risk. As long as the field of applicants remains substantially larger than the number of slots for incoming freshman and most applicants are highly qualified academically, the motivation to cover all bases in the admissions process will remain. You may, therefore, want to consider utilizing a LinkedIn profile.
Your IvySelect college admissions consultant is an expert in assisting you to develop the best possible strategy for admission to the most elite colleges and universities. We don’t set up or maintain your LinkedIn platform. What we do is guide your marketing message so that you’ll draw attention to your most positive attributes. Your best approach is to set up your own LinkedIn profile using IvySelect’s marketing message as your unifying theme. This way, you’ll know how to make changes and update your profile as needed. LinkedIn is simple on a technical level.
With IvySelect’s guidance, your social media presence will reflect the same positive image that is presented in all of the other elements of the admissions campaign that we develop with you, including essays, interviews, letters of recommendation, and, most importantly, the application itself.