How Does Social Media Affect College Students?
The use of social media in the daily life of college students has gained more and more prevalence over the past decade. Not only does social media usage constitute a large portion of a college student’s free time, but they also hold an interesting dynamic within the academic and employment spheres. As a current or prospective college student, it’s important to consider the ways that social media can benefit you in college. But, adversely, you should be mindful of the negative habits, impacts, and consequences social media may have toward your college experience that you want to avoid.
What Social Media Do College Students Use the Most?
According to recent surveys conducted by Business Insider and EAB, it was found that the most popular social media sites among the Gen Z population, based on daily and total usage (in order), were Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok. Here are the percentages of respondents that claimed they check each social media network on a daily basis and the total usage numbers:
- 65% check on a daily basis
- 82.5% use Instagram (10% increase from 2017 to 2019)
- 62% check on a daily basis
- 81% use YouTube
- 51% check on a daily basis
- 78% use Snapchat
- 34% check on a daily basis
- 50% use Facebook (17% decrease from 2017 to 2019)
- 23% check on a daily basis
- 43% use Twitter
- 14% check on a daily basis
- 36% use Pinterest
- 11% check on a daily basis
Based on expert insights, an upwards of 98% of college-aged students use some form of social media. Not only this, but an annual nationwide survey of college students by UCLA found that 27.2% of college students spend more than six hours on social media per week. In turn, this has also led to the time spent physically socializing with friends among college students to lower and lower recorded averages over recent years.
Do Colleges Look at Your Social Media Accounts?
The simple answer: yes, many college admissions departments look at prospective students’ social media accounts prior to making a decision on their acceptance into the school. While it is rare that you’ll be denied admission to a college for social media posts, a survey administered by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that 11% of respondents said they denied admission based on social media content and another 7% rescinded offers based on social media content. In total, around 25% of admissions professionals admit that they check applicants’ social media profiles. Even though these percentages may vary by school admission rates and criteria, this provides more proof that you should be mindful of what you post on social media accounts in order to ensure that you optimize your likelihood of being admitted into college.
Will Social Media Hurt Your College and Career Goals?
It’s important to consider how your time on social media influences your daily life, but you should also think about how the content that you post will impact your future. According to a 2017 study, 70% of employers use social media to screen job candidates before hiring them. Additionally, 54% of employers reported that they’ve found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate. Here are some of the top reasons that employers decided to not hire a candidate due to content on social media:
- 39% – Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information.
- 38% – Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs.
- 32% – Candidate made discriminatory comments.
- 30% – Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee.
- 27% – Candidate lied about qualifications.
With that being said, we must reiterate the importance of monitoring the types of content that you post on social media. As a general rule-of-thumb, if a post you’re going to make on social media seems to be even slightly questionable upon review, it’s probably best not to post it. Not only can the things that you post influence personal relationships, but they also play a prominent role within the college admissions and hiring processes. You wouldn’t want one frivolous post to determine your future, so be safe and smart when using social media.
Social Media Safety / Admissions Social Media Strategy
The safest way to be present in the world of social media without potentially sabotaging future opportunities is to only make information that you are comfortable with EVERYONE seeing publicly viewable. One easy way to make sure your social media profiles follow these guidelines is to adjust your privacy settings on your accounts. For example, if you’re worried about former Facebook posts that you’ve made in the past, but you don’t want to go through and check each one, you can change your privacy settings to hide their visibility from the public. Here are Instructions for changing your Facebook privacy settings: Facebook Privacy Settings Guide.
Here are privacy settings guides for other popular social media networks as well:
Safe Social Media Sites / Recommended College Social Media Apps
There are many positive effects to social media usage as it pertains to college admissions and future employment opportunities. Social media allows you to connect to people in ways that were never available to older generations and you can use this to your advantage by networking, being involved in constructive communities, and furthering your influence and reputation. Here are some of the social media apps we recommend and how to get the largest benefit out of using them:
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is widely considered the most beneficial social media app to college students and it provides many educational and employment related opportunities.
- Resume Enhancement: LinkedIn allows you to define all your skills and experience, beyond a conventional resume. You can also get referrals from people you know, which will further enhance your credibility.
- Networking: LinkedIn allows you to become connected to students, employers, and other professionals, which can be very helpful in advancing your career. Use connections with these individuals and entities to stay acquainted, in touch, and up to date. You never know what connection could lead to a future opportunity!
- Job/Internship Searching: Not only does LinkedIn provide a plethora of job and internship listings for you to search from, but many companies use LinkedIn to search for qualified job/internship candidates. Display your skills and experience on LinkedIn to attract the attention of potential employers that are using the platform to scout for talent.
- Interview Preparation: You can use LinkedIn to perform research on companies that you may be interested in working for. The more you know about a company, the more prepared you can be for an interview.
- YouTube – This platform can mainly be used as a resource for educational content and tutorial videos. Here are some of the most popular YouTube channels for education and learning:
- Khan Academy – Provides tutoring in subjects such as math, science, computing, and economics.
- Crash Course – Teaches a wide range of subjects, like world history, biology, and psychology.
- Ted Ed – General, wide-ranging, educational content.
- freeCodeCamp.org – Provides free programming courses.
- Math and Science – Self explanatory; provides lessons on math and science.
- There are many more great educational channels out there. Simply search for your subject of interest, along with “lessons/tutoring/education/courses” and you’ll likely be able to find helpful content.
- Facebook – As long as you follow the guidelines above to safely present yourself on Facebook, it can be a very beneficial platform to use.
- You can use Facebook to connect with classmates to set up study sessions, work on group projects, and/or ask for assistance and guidance on academic related tasks.
- Many professors even use Facebook Groups as a way for all of the students in their class to communicate and connect with each other, share information, and complete assignments.
- There is a fair amount of educational content available on Facebook that can garner you a greater understanding of subjects in your curriculum.
- Facebook also provides opportunities for networking, albeit at a less professional level than LinkedIn.
- Twitter – Similar to Facebook, Twitter can be a valuable platform if you’re able to safely and professionally present yourself.
- You can use Twitter to easily stimulate discussions with new individuals and keep up to date on current topics and trends among educators and employers.
- Creating a portfolio is another great way to improve your online presence!
- Learn more about creating an online portfolio in a recent blog post: Tips for Creating an Online Portfolio in College
Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!
- Salm, Lauren. “70% Of Employers Are Snooping Candidates’ Social Media Profiles.” CareerBuilder, 15 June 2017, www.careerbuilder.com/advice/social-media-survey-2017.
- Green, Dennis. “The Most Popular Social Media Platforms with Gen Z.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 2 July 2019, www.businessinsider.com/gen-z-loves-snapchat-instagram-and-youtube-social-media-2019-6.
- Griffin, Riley. “Social Media Is Changing How College Students Deal With Mental Health, For Better Or Worse.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 22 July 2015, www.huffpost.com/entry/social-media-college-mental-health_n_55ae6649e4b08f57d5d28845.
- Jaschik, Scott. “Inside Higher Ed.” Prospective Students’ Social Media Preferences Have Changed in Two Years, 23 Sept. 2019, www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2019/09/23/prospective-students-social-media-preferences-have-changed-two-years.
- Moody, Josh. “Why Colleges Look at Students’ Social Media.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 22 Aug. 2019, www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2019-08-22/why-colleges-look-at-students-social-media-accounts.
- Hochman, Allison. “25 Best Educational YouTube Channels for College Students.” University of the People, 19 Jan. 2020, www.uopeople.edu/blog/best-educational-youtube-channels-for-college-students/