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Why You Should Avoid Admissions Advice From Social Media

Stephen Friedfeld, PhD

Why you should avoid admissions advice from social media

There is no doubt that college admissions is more competitive than ever, and there is great urgency among families to seek out information that might give them an edge in the admissions process. But now families are turning to social media influencers for admissions advice via a multitude of social media platforms, including TikTok, Youtube and Instagram. These “admissions influencers” engage with followers with “expertise” on how you should navigate the U.S. college admissions process by sharing details on how they got admitted to their dream schools. Unfortunately, as charming and compelling as admissions influencers appear, most lack qualifying admissions counseling experience, or they share practices that may not always apply to you. In fact, many admissions influencers are high school seniors or first-year college students! Despite attaining impressive admissions results, they only recently went through the admissions process – but more importantly, they don’t know why their applications were successful. They don’t know how admissions officers made their decisions. And they don’t know how their applications compared to other applicants. 


If you are thinking about taking admissions advice from an admissions influencer, here are a few reasons to consider otherwise.


Most admissions influencers do not have professional admissions experience. Quite simply, the vast majority of admissions influencers are not qualified to guide anyone in the admissions process. Admissions influencers commonly post short-form content to attract followers, such as posting their college acceptance reaction videos or reading aloud admissions essays. These activities are clickbait material, and none are indicative of admissions competency. 


Everyone’s situation is different! There is no one-size-fits-all method or standard blueprint to get into the institutions of your choice. Everyone has a unique background and different starting point in the admissions process. Therefore, the advice shared by admissions influencers will often not be applicable to your situation and circumstances. In addition, admission influencers cannot help you identify your application’s strengths and weaknesses. 


Little engagement. In most cases, you won’t be able to engage with admissions influencers directly, so it’s unlikely you’ll have any actual discourse on the exact steps they took to become a competitive applicant.


Beware of marketing ploys. Many admissions influencers capitalize on the views attached to their admissions content to sell a product or service. It’s how they make (lots of) money.


What should you look for? Knowledgeable counselors will fill you in on current admissions stats and trends you should be aware of as you begin – or proceed – in the admissions process. Professional counselors take the time to evaluate your profile to determine the best-fit schools and programs for you.


At AcceptU, we understand many of the challenges families are up against trying to navigate the college admissions process independently. Our team of dedicated college counselors has years of experience in admissions. We’re committed to combatting disinformation and equipping families with the tools needed to produce robust applications.

(Stephen Friedfeld is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member. )

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