Social media has become a large part of the college admissions experience. Prospective students and their parents can research schools, view photos and videos of the campus, and even chat with the admissions department all from a single channel.

Social media is not one-sided, though. Higher institutions also use this medium to get a more well-rounded idea of potential candidates. In the past, colleges and universities only had a paper trail to base their decisions off of. Today, they ] of prospects, determine if they will be a good fit for the school, and decide how to allocate scholarship funds.

Let’s take an honest look at the good and bad that social media can have for your school and how much weight it carries for the end decision.

Going Beyond Test Scores and GPAs

Social media supports the admissions process in many ways. For example, eCampus News reports that 40% of admissions officers look at the social profiles of student applicants to get a better idea of their story beyond test scores, GPA, and essays. Some of the things that schools look for specifically are talents, passions, extracurricular activities, and awards.

Prospects can look great on paper, but that doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your school and vice versa. With social media, you can strengthen your retention rates by identifying students that will be a great fit, not just academically, but socially as well. The same goes for prospects, too. By reading blog posts, viewing photos, and checking status updates, they can imagine themselves at your school.

Featuring Highly Targeted Ads

Social media also holds weight in the admissions process by matching you to qualified high school students. If you have a smaller institution, you don’t have the same budget for ads as larger colleges and universities do. Rather than being passed over, social media lets you create highly targeted ads that are shown to the right students. As long as you clearly define your target audience, you can be selective and make your ad dollars go further.

For prospects, being shown the right ads also makes a difference. Imagine being 17 years old again and having numerous schools all vying for your attention. It’s overwhelming to say the least, especially when you don’t know what programs are offered, what the climate is like and so on. Highly targeted ads help prospects weed through potential schools and better understand why yours should be added to their watch list.

Social media absolutely holds weight in the college admission process. More schools are using holistic metrics to better understand potential candidates and what they will bring to the academic, social, and extracurricular environment. For students, it’s unclear as to how their acceptance rates will be affected by their profiles, but we can all agree that the more studious and balanced they are, the more opportunities they will have for enrollment, internships, and scholarships.