© Dean Bertoncelj | Dreamstime.com
Leaving behind a digital impression is something today’s high school students have been learning about since they joined social network sites. While most students are very aware of how their online behavior could affect future opportunities, some still lack the self-control to completely consider the impact of their Internet behaviors.
That said, some kids are leaving a smaller trail behind them: posting less online, swapping permanent photos and chats on Facebook for more ephemeral ways of communicating, like private messaging and Snapchat, which allows users to send a quick photo message that will quickly disappears.
Scanning Internet posts of prospective students is not the rule for the majority of admissions counselors, who base their decisions primarily on a student’s high school grades, SAT scores, extracurricular activities, and behavior record. Highly selective schools or scholarship boards, however, may look beyond the traditional application and consider perusing online outlets for insights into personality and past behaviors.
The bottom line? Any lasting impression — online or on paper — has the potential to affect a teen’s future opportunities with school or work. Whether it’s a college, a scholarship, or a job application, here are some things your high school student can consider to make his Internet presence a positive one as he takes his next step:
Get Linkedin. High school students can check out LinkedIn’s University Pages, designed to help graduates transition to their next step — be it college or work. Open to students as young as 14, these resources can help kids begin to build their academic and work profile and understanding the importance of networking.
Google yourself. Did you receive an award, win a science fair, or play for an all-star team with your local soccer league? If your name was in the local paper, a high school band program or an organizational newsletter at any time during your school years, there’s a good chance it will appear online in a Google search. Be prepared to answer any question that might come up in relationship to a search under your name during a college interview.
Build positive content. Students can start using technology in high school to demonstrate their strengths. Create a blog with a free WordPress.com or Tumblr.com account chronicling participation in a community service experience or local organization. Or start an online portfolio to showcase art, photography, creative writing, or web design. Try Dunked.com or Carbonmade (carbonmade.com), which offer free accounts.