As the fall college application process gets underway, there’s one more thing you should add to your application checklist:

Clean up your social networking sites!

According to Kaplan’s recent survey of 320 top U. S. colleges, 1 out of 10 admissions officers looked at students’ social networking websites as part of their application review, and 38 percent of those surveyed said what they saw had a negative impact on their admission decisions.  And it’s not just college admissions officers browsing the web, would-be employers also admit to using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to gain insight into job seekers.

So, if you’re applying to college or a job in the near future, here are some tips to ensure your online impression is a good one:

Edit Your Pics–First off, make sure your profile picture doesn’t contain any offensive, illicit, or illegal behavior.  And while you’re at it, go through the rest of your pics and either delete or make private any other photos you wouldn’t want to show off in a job interview. It may seem obvious, but even that hilarious pic at last week’s party could give off a less than responsible image.

Stop Posting About Your College or Job Plans–You may be super excited to tell your friends that USC is your top choice school, but if a college admissions officer reads that on your page it may unwittingly bias their decision to admit you.  So keep the college and career talk limited to IM, chat, or a private message.

Maintain Your Privacy–Of course, the easiest way to make sure you keep tabs on who’s viewing your pages is to change your privacy settings so that your profiles are only visible to friends.  And then if an admissions officer or potential employer friends you, you’ll have the heads-up to either edit your profile or deny the request.

Have your social networking pages ever backfired for you?  What do you think about employers and college officials checking out your profiles?


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