We all know real life is different from what it looks like on Instagram. But, when it comes to colleges and social media, you can gain a great deal of insight about an institution—and what it might be like to be a student there—by spending some time scrolling through their social media accounts.
Take your list of top schools and see what platforms they have accounts on, then log on and consider these seven things a college’s social media can tell you:
What kinds of activities they have on campus. You might see announcements for upcoming events, photos from events that just happened, and hashtags for whatever is trending—literally and figuratively—on campus. Are student groups and offices on campus organizing events and workshops that you’d want to attend?
What milestone events are like on campus. Move-in day, Family Weekend, Halloween, Christmastime… these moments and more are huge memory-making opportunities at college. Check out the photos they post to see how big of a deal (or not) they are on campus.
Level of school spirit. Colleges are often posting beautiful campus shots, open-ended questions to their community and alumni or faculty shoutouts. While those are great to see, check the comments sections—are students playing along? Answering q’s? Showing pride in their school?
What kind of students attend this school. Are the students who are being retweeted from the college’s official Twitter stream, or posing for photos or doing Snapchat takeovers seem like people you’d want to be friends with or could relate to? Also, find out if there are Facebook groups for each class; this would be a good way to connect with other incoming students and “meet” them before you even get there.
Campus interest in school sports. If the college’s social platforms are filled with score updates, news about sports games or photos of students decked out in school colors, chances are sports are big and students there fully support their teams.
Alumni involvement. Typically, colleges will have social media accounts just for staying connected with alumni. Are they active? Does it look like grads LOVED their college experience?
The general vibe of a campus. You can Google for stats or ask admissions staff to learn if a college has an impressive retention rate or a good ranking for their business program, but you can get a more personal, qualitative idea of what life is like on any given campus—and, most importantly, whether it feels like the right fit for you—by spending some time exploring a college’s Twitter feed, Facebook account, Instagram pics, etc.