How to Use Facebook to Get a Leg Up in College Admissions

You might not be surprised to learn that almost a full 25 percent of today's college admissions officers use Facebook when judging applicants.

But what if you knew that 35 percent of those high school students surveyed... came off looking worse?

That's what Kaplan found in a study on Facebook and its impact on the college admissions process.

And that's why it's important for you -- if you're a college-bound student -- to understand the "dark side" of Facebook, and how to put your best put forward.

The first rule when using Facebook is obvious: know what is public and what isn't. There's an option on Facebook to look at your page through the lens of different users. Take advantage. See what friends-of-friends see (and what 25% of admissions officers will see.) Find out what anyone who's online could find if they searched your name on Facebook.

Make sure nothing is there for public consumption that might make an admissions officer think twice about you. When that's out of the way, start highlighting your best points. For example, if you've done volunteer work, show a photo. Also list your extra-curriculars in your activities.

Be creative with what you post about yourself. Admissions officers will know what you're doing outside school hours, but here's a chance to show them WHY you're doing it (other than to look good in applications).

Finally, don't neglect your other online profiles and other presence. Google+ fortunately has stringent privacy controls, but you'll want to be extra cautious with Twitter. Here's what I mean by that -- the default on Twitter is full public access. If you've made any questionable statements, you'll want to hide them (or make your profile invite-only).

Other points to keep in mind: Flixster will often show anyone your photos unless otherwise specified. Foursquare can potentially show college investigators everywhere you've been.

Just remember, today's world is a connected one. Be smart about what you put online.