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Social media tips to make sure you are sending the right messages

13th May 2019

A view of the historical city of Oxford

You’ve studied hard, you’ve got great predicted results, relevant extracurricular experience, a perfectly crafted personal statement and, as your exams approach, you reckon you’ll be well on the way to an offer at your first-choice university. But before you unleash your unquestionable talent on the world, make sure your digital image gives the right impression.

Surely university admissions departments have better things to do than stalk you on social media, right? Bear in mind that they have every right to do so, just as employers do. Statistics suggest 68 percent of universities feel it’s “fair game” to trawl through applicants’ social media accounts and 45% of employers check out applicants’ social media profiles ahead of an interview.  Even more ominously, 1 in 3 said they have rejected an applicant based on their social media profile.

Convinced yet? Here’s a checklist of actions to make sure your social presence is application and interview worthy.

1. Google Yourself

See what comes up that you may have forgotten about, including long-forgotten blog entries. If you have a common name, qualify your search to narrow it down. Ask a friend to do the same on their account too – your search history will influence results.

2. Have a professional profile

Sorry, there are no prank videos or TV gossip on LinkedIn, but even before your first full-time job, this is where you build your career profile, find out what’s going on in the fields you’re interested in and find jobs postings. And LinkedIn isn’t the only option either. Using Goodwall, students can build an online presence by telling their story of achievements while still at school. Additionally, they can meet and connect with peers from around the world, strengthening themselves as a candidate in the competitive global landscape for top universities and employers.

A web browser


Yes, you may have managed to cunningly get round Facebook’s “real name” policy by borrowing the moniker of a literary character, but that isn’t going to help a university find out why you’re the ideal candidate for their course.

Lee smiling at our Oxford summer school

4. Take a good profile photo

Make sure your profile picture is a good likeness of you, not a celebrity or your cat, and not too silly. Remove or set to private previous profile photos you don’t want potential employers to see. For a professional profile, make sure your clothing is appropriate and looks smart! 


We all like to complain, but constant moaning will give a negative impression, as will an off-colour joke, divisive opinion or overt political leanings. This includes sharing inappropriate posts and images.


Unless your account is so scurrilous it can’t be rescued, there’s no need to delete it and start again or make the whole thing private and create a “work only” one. Move content you’d rather a university didn’t see into a private album. That way you show you have nothing to hide.

7. Build a professional network

Follow companies and key influencers in the field you’re interested in. Like and comment on posts.

8. Build an audience

Especially if social media will be integral to the type of role you’re seeking, make sure your personal account has a healthy following by interacting with like-minded people and companies.

9. Keep a balance 

With the exception of LinkedIn, no one is expecting all your posts to be study and career-oriented. Take the opportunity to show off your hobbies and personality, so long as it supports what you’ve put in applications.

The Linkedin logo

10. Don’t bash previous or current schools or colleges

While it’s obvious that you shouldn’t disrespect prospective universities, you may want to redact criticism of any previous institutions, especially if you might need references and letters of recommendation.

11. Email and other contact details 

If your email is something like you may want to select something a bit more conservative based on your real name. And don’t forget that the profile picture to attribute to, for example, your Gmail will often show up in the recipient’s inbox.

12. Don’t misrepresent yourself

If you’re not actually interning at Google or doing charity work every weekend, don’t try to boost your image by pretending – you will get found out.

Summer school students on a tour of Oxford University

13. Seek out university profiles

Universities you’re interested in attending will have dedicated social media pages. Like and follow these pages and you’ll also get an insight into what it’s like to study there as well as other updates on research and news.

14. Watch your spelling and grammar

Social media encourages internet slang, but if your target university involves clear, accurate writing, you can use your posts to showcase your command of language skills.

15. Check it passes the Mum test 

After you’ve had an initial sweep through your social media accounts, would you allow your mum free reign to browse them all? If you’re not sure, get someone you trust to do a mini audit. Or your mum, of course!

16. A positive profile gets results!

Finally, now you’ve done all the hard work, the good news is an awesome social media profile could be the clincher that lands you the course you want. It’s also great preparation for when you hit the job market in a few years. So, get posting!

If you think you have your social media down and would like to publicise your experience on the summer school, apply to be our student ambassador! Read more by clicking below. 

Oxbridge International Student Ambassadors