Though cautions abound when it comes to social media use by teenagers, platforms like Instagram and YouTube, when used strategically, can be powerful tools for high school students to showcase their skills, talents and experiences.
According to a Pew Research survey conducted in early 2022, 71% of teens say social media makes them feel like they have a place “where they can show their creative side.”
It’s that characteristic of social media that provides opportunities for students to get a head start on creating a professional online image as they approach high school and college.
Here are a few positive ways students can use social media to help prepare for the future:
- Personal branding: High school students can use social media platforms to create and showcase their personal brand. They can highlight their achievements, skills, interests and experiences through carefully curated profiles. This can help them stand out to college admissions officers, potential employers or scholarship committees.
- Networking: Social media provides an opportunity to connect with professionals, experts and peers in their fields of interest. Students can follow and engage with individuals and organizations relevant to their career aspirations. Building a professional network can lead to mentorship opportunities, internships and future collaborations.
- Research and learning: Social media platforms can serve as valuable sources of information and learning opportunities. Students can follow industry leaders, educational institutions and organizations to stay updated on trends, news and developments in their areas of interest. Participating in relevant online communities and groups can provide access to resources and discussions. Students also can follow educational channels, join webinars or live sessions, and participate in online courses or workshops to develop new skills and enhance their knowledge.
- Showcasing projects and portfolios: High school students can use social media to share their projects, artwork, writing or other creative works. Platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn or personal websites can serve as digital portfolios that highlight their skills and accomplishments.
- Online learning communities: High school students can join online learning communities or participate in educational discussions on social media. By participating, students engage with others who have similar interests, exchange knowledge with their peers and engage in collaborative learning, a frequent method used in college classrooms.
- College and career research: Social media platforms can be used to research colleges, universities and potential career paths or employers. Students can follow college and university pages, career-related accounts and alumni networks to network with other prospective and current students, as well as alumni, thus gaining insight into the institutions and industries that interest them.
- Developing digital literacy and online etiquette: Engaging responsibly and respectfully on social media is important. Americans go online for all kinds of reasons — product research, health questions and entertainment, just to name a few. Developing an understanding of how to discern information provided by various sources is part of being a responsible digital citizen, as is being mindful of one’s own use of appropriate language and tone when communicating online.
By using social media effectively, students can leverage its potential as a tool for learning, networking and personal growth, enhancing their future personal and professional prospects.
A College Student’s Advice to High Schoolers About Social Media
By Sydney Snow
(Originally published Nov. 29, 2021, on the University of Mobile blog)
Social media is a wonderful tool. It is best known for helping us stay connected, share memories and find community. We all love to post our favorite pictures for the world to see. We want everyone to know what we wore to the dance or what University of Mobile event we attended.
It can open new doors in many aspects of life — especially with your education and career. As a communications major in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Mobile, I often think of how social media can change my life and the lives of others. Social media has given me the ability to share the content I create in my internship at the University of Mobile with the rest of the world. These platforms give me the opportunity to boost my career and help others.
As social media continues to grow in popularity, many businesses, organizations and schools are turning to it to gain a better insight into applicants. They want the people associated with them to uphold the same standard of professionalism. Using social media allows them to assess applicant qualifications, professionalism and trustworthiness.
As you graduate high school, apply to graduate school or enter the job market, the content you post can affect your future in a positive or negative way. Here are some tips to help students responsibly use social media:
- Think about your image. How you portray yourself on social media affects more than your likes and followers. Potential employers and universities will look to this content to determine if you are someone who fits what they are looking for.
- Protect yourself. You should always avoid giving out your personal and sensitive information online.
- Be trustworthy. In many situations, whether with a job or university, you will be trusted with sensitive information that is not your own. Your employers or professors will expect you to keep certain information confidential.
- Be respectful. We live in a world where everyone wants to be heard, which is not a bad thing. However, you should always be respectful of someone else’s opinions or beliefs. It is okay to comment on something — which is why they made the comment section — but you must know where to draw the line.
- Be responsible. There have been many instances of misinformation and miscommunication due to lack of responsibility. What you put on the internet can and does affect the thoughts and beliefs of others.
Our parents always told us to be careful about what content we put online. As much as we may not like to admit that our parents were right, they were. You can still post your favorite University of Mobile content and selfies, but it never hurts to be cautious for the future.