We talk to families a lot about the importance of both making sure that their teenagers’ online profiles do not contain content that will hurt them in the college admissions process, but also about having a positive online profile that will help them, making it clear what a fine upstanding person they are. It also helps if some of their online profile speaks to a field of study that they are passionate about.
The former is pretty straightforward, especially in the case that any content on the internet about you was actually posted by you. You can just clean it up or delete it. The latter is a little trickier. It’s not easy to shift gears on Facebook or Instagram and start posting about how you love helping animals and volunteer at the local food pantry, and most students haven’t gone to the length of creating a personal website.
I thought I’d dig into a real life example from my school district where the students are missing an obvious opportunity.
My boys go to Montgomery High School in New Jersey, and while neither of them participate on the robotics team, it would have been hard for me to miss its existence of late, as they have won some impressive awards and gotten a lot of good press.
The Montgomery Robotics Team has a great website, put together by the team members over the years, and they have hundreds of fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter. That is great, but they are missing a huge opportunity. None of the team members is listed on the website.
The team states that it is very much interested in furthering studies of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM):
Since 2004 we’ve been demonstrating the importance of the STEM disciplines while also developing project management, leadership and teamwork skills.
I’m assuming that a lot of the team’s 80 or so members are looking to study some form of STEM when they get to college, and they’d like to get into the best school possible. What better way to demonstrate to the colleges to which they apply that they are genuinely interested in the topic they wish to study, and have documented evidence of applied efforts and success in this arena.
What we would recommend is that each team member created a profile page for himself on the website, listing key strengths and responsibilities, educational goals and career aspirations. Follow that up with a little search engine optimization so that the page ranks in search for their name, or their name and location, and they’ve gone a long way to a better online profile. Even if a link to the page can’t be included in a standard college app (we’re not sure whether it can or can’t), anyone Googling your teen’s name is bound to be impressed if they land on this page.
If someone from the Montgomery Robotics team reads this and wants some help, feel free to let us know.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.