Social Media Dos and Don’ts for College Students

by | Jul 10, 2023 | Jobs, Student Life

Everyone and their dog is on social media – literally. According to research by Experian, 98% of college-aged students are on social media.

In the past people primarily used social media to connect with family and friends. Today, social media users leverage these platforms to build their personal brands, market their skills, and explore job opportunities.

In turn, corporate firms also use social media to advertise vacancies, scout for new talent, screen candidates, and build their brands. Posting content that calls your character into question can, therefore, negatively affect your future career prospects.

Questionable social media posts can also lead to trouble with your school, your scholarship provider, or the law.

How, then, can you use social media wisely while studying abroad? Which social media dos and don’ts should you have in mind while leveraging these platforms as you start to build your professional brand?

Let’s explore.

Do Think Before You Post

Before clicking the “post” button, think about the post. Does it present you in a good light? Bigoted, hateful, insensitive, and harmful content will not only put you at risk of being banned on the platform, but it can also get you in trouble.

As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to avoid controversial topics – especially those related to race, religion, sexuality, or disability. In the same vein, don’t post content that calls your morals into question. For instance, pictures of you taking dressed skimpily while taking alcohol and drugs can cost you opportunities in future.

Consider the potential impact of your posts before sharing them. Be mindful of the content you post, ensuring it aligns with your personal values and won’t harm your reputation. If in doubt, don’t post.

Don’t Forget that Social Media is Public

How about just adjusting the privacy settings on your accounts? Well, nothing is really private once posted on social media.

Even with privacy settings, you have no control of whether others can take screenshots of your post or download your content to share elsewhere.

That said, it’s still a good idea to adjust your privacy settings to control who can see your posts and personal information. This is particularly advisable for platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, which plenty of people use to connect with family and friends.

When you’re searching for internships or job opportunities, it’s important to audit your social media presence. Are there any posts that might present you in a negative light? Delete them.

Do Create a Professional Online Presence

As we’ve discussed above, social media is a powerful tool to build your professional brand. Even while in school, you can use it to start building a professional online presence.

Use social media platforms to showcase your achievements, skills, and interests related to your field of study or desired career. On LinkedIn, in particular, make sure to have a professional headshot on your profile and a bio that reflects your experience and skills.

Participate in discussions on social media related to your interests or academic pursuits. Engaging in thoughtful conversations can help you connect with like-minded individuals and expand your knowledge.

In addition, follow organizations, companies, professionals, and influencers in your field of interest. This allows you to stay updated on industry trends, job opportunities, and relevant news.

Don’t Engage in Online Fights

Who doesn’t like a bit of banter and debate?

Online arguments may seem like a fun pastime. But they might cost you your reputation and future career opportunities.

Only engage in meaningful discussions. Maintain a respectful and professional tone when interacting with others, even if you disagree with their viewpoints. If an argument is taking too much of your time and causing you stress, it’s best to disengage.

What if someone tries to bait you into an argument? Well, you don’t have to respond. Alternatively, you can use a neutral response such as “I hear you.”

Don’t Complain About Classmates and Professors

Social media isn’t a platform to vent your frustrations with classmates, professors, your college, or employers. Doing so can reflect poorly on your character and may harm your relationships within the academic community.

Employers will also be wary of hiring anyone who badmouths those around them. It shows that you lack maturity and good judgment. In future badmouthing people can potentially lead to lawsuits.

Consider writing in your private journal or venting to a trusted friend instead. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s also a good idea to seek the help of a professional therapist.

Do Add Value

In whatever you do, it’s good to always think about how you can add value. Instead of merely consuming content on social media, think of ways to contribute positively and add value to your audience.

For instance, you can share your tips and insights on studying abroad or making friends in a new culture. When you offer value, you’ll see the right people connecting with you on social media and expanding your network.

Remember to be authentic. As much as you want to appear professional,  it’s ok to post content that highlights your family connections, pets, and hobbies.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Social Media

Spending too much time on social media can negatively impact your studies. With great time management skills, you can build an online presence while also making time to study, participate in extracurricular activities, hang out with friends, and rest.

It’s ok to take breaks from social media whenever you need them. Your mental health and your studies should always take priority. 


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