You and your student have pulled together all the details of a professional-quality high school transcript—complete with a solid GPA, course history, record of extracurricular activities, and more. You’ve worked together to compile a list of your student’s dream colleges, and it’s time to start sending out applications.

But have you taken his or her social media presence into account?

Alongside the traditional high school transcript, social media has become part of a college’s first impression of applicants. As part of the information gathered for admissions, social media can either bolster or undermine your student’s transcript. Even the best transcript can be submarined by a terrible social media presence. A great social media presence, on the other hand, can significantly boost your student’s chances of being accepted into his or her college of choice.

According to a recent Kalpan study, 35% of college admissions officers review applicants’ social media presence. While that isn’t the majority, it shows a significant trend: social media is becoming an increasingly important deciding factor in college admissions.

Today, we’re sharing seven ways you can help your student prevent social media from undermining a high school transcript and sabotaging college applications.

Prior to and during the college application process, your student should:

1. Remove controversial, negative, or questionable material across all social platforms

Posting controversial or inappropriate material on social media can be very harmful to your student’s college admission process. Posts that contain incendiary content will cast your student in a negative light.

Your student should not have any material on a social media account that references or includes:

  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Sexual or illegal activity
  • Bad, hostile, or hateful language
  • Polarizing political posts
  • Other questionable content

Your student should make a clean sweep of the following materials to ensure the above content is removed:

  • Social media & blog posts, tweets, and snaps
  • Photos
  • Usernames
  • Groups
  • Liked pages & followed accounts (if the content is controversial)

Your student should also remove any tags from questionable material (photos and posts included), then disable tagging or place tagging restrictions on the account.

2. Only engage in positive online interactions with colleges

In addition to reviewing the broad scope of your student’s social media interactions, a college is likely to take into account any online exchange their institution might have had with your student. It’s important to avoid posting anything negative about the colleges where your student is applying. On the other hand, mindful and positive online engagement with the university can boost your student’s chances of being accepted.

3. Post material that presents an accomplished, well-rounded student

Social media is a powerful tool that, when used well, can supplement the information on your student’s traditional transcript to give colleges a deeper look at who he or she is as a person. Your student can leverage this by creating online profiles, portfolios, websites, or blogs that demonstrate expertise or passion in the area of study he or she wishes to pursue, then including a link with a college application. Also post big wins, accomplishments, awards, and more to social media in order to create a consistent, steady stream of positive content that mirrors the information on your student’s transcript and application.

4. Create a LinkedIn profile

A LinkedIn profile is a professional-looking way for your student to showcase skills, accomplishments, and aspirations to admissions departments. It’s also a place to communicate directly with admissions officers, in place of other social platforms like Facebook or Instagram that are largely directed toward friends and family. LinkedIn could be particularly useful in the event that your student has chosen to make other social media accounts private.

5. Tweak privacy settings to filter what admissions officers see

If your student has non-controversial content on social media platforms that he or she still isn’t comfortable with colleges seeing, make the profiles (or portions of them) private to the general public. While this isn’t failsafe, it’s an option that allows students to control admissions officers’ impressions and the flow of information to the world outside their personal network.

6. Join Facebook or other online groups for colleges they’re interested in

Joining a Facebook group (or other online group) run by the college your student is interested in is a great way to start interacting with officials, alumni, or other prospective students. As with all other social platforms, it’s important for your student to keep interactions positive and constructive. Being active in online groups will get your student’s name in front of the university outside of the traditional application process, and could increase his or her chances of being accepted.

7. Beware of appearing inauthentic

There’s a fine line between a social media presence that looks authentic and one that appears staged. In all your student’s endeavors to create an impressive social media presence, make sure to avoid creating something that looks fake or too good to be true. For the most part, students should use common sense and always be aware of who will be studying their online presence.

The bottom line: social media is a powerful tool, but proceed with caution

Your student can leverage his or her social media presence to boost chances of being accepted to a dream university. A powerful, positive social media presence can effectively supplement your student’s traditional high school transcript to provide a three-dimensional view of who they are and what they’re all about.