As a student, social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It can be an excellent way to connect with likeminded people and to network. It can also be your downfall if what people primarily see when they look at your social media accounts is not consistent with the image a potential future employer or graduate department is looking for. Having a social media presence is a good idea but only if you use it wisely.
Clean Up Old Profiles
If you’re like most people your age, you have social media profiles going back to your early teens. It’s probably time to delete some of them. In fact, unless you are specifically building your career on one or more platforms, it’s not a bad idea to nuke your profiles every few years and start fresh. This doesn’t just ensure that your past is less likely to come back to haunt you but also helps you clear out all those random people you met in class or on spring break that you haven’t spoken to since. In the meantime, keep in mind that privacy settings exist for a reason. While you shouldn’t post things online you would worry about strangers, parents or future employers seeing anyway, it’s still a good idea to lock down your accounts as much as you can.
Finding Scholarships and Loans
While you’re using databases and search engines to find scholarships and private student loans online, you might not have considered checking social media. However, this can be a great way to connect with communities of other students who can point you in the direction of scholarships and loans. You can also read reviews and find out if the organizations and lenders you’re considering have a social media presence. This can help you find some otherwise obscure scholarships as well as private lenders who have satisfied clients. This can be especially helpful if you are looking for online student loan lenders instead of going to your local bank, where you can talk to someone face-to-face.
Connect with Professionals
Are you considering becoming a doctor, a biologist or a writer? Whatever your ambitions, you can find professionals on social media who write about their work and even answer questions. This can be a great way to learn more about the fields that interest you. Be sure that you are respectful of the time of professionals who offer this free insight into their work.
Trust but Verify
There’s an old joke that says on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog, and it’s funny because it is at least somewhat true. For various reasons, some people will go to elaborate lengths to construct an internet alter ego. Other people are just very different in real life from their online persona. This means that while social media can be great for networking, you should be cautious about confiding in or accepting job offers from people you haven’t met in the flesh. If your social media contact is someone that no one online appears to have met in real life—or who only one person claims to have met—healthy skepticism may be the right attitude.