Academics

How to Impress a College Admissions Officer Online

By: Jennifer Schwartz

College counselors often find themselves reminding students of the importance of creating a positive, personal image of themselves in their college applications. “Show them your best you!” New data from the 2016 Cornerstone Reputation Admissions Survey reveals several ways that students can use their online presence to help create such an impression. With nearly 50% of admissions officers searching for applicants online, it is important to know when you might get searched and how to come out with a leg up on fellow applicants.

Curate the Content You Create

According to a report from Common Sense Media, teens spend about nine hours a day using media for their enjoyment. So if a student is already spending so much time online, they might as well kill two birds with one stone, and use this time in a way that positively impacts their online footprint. Cornerstone Reputation has identified five types of content a student can post online that are likely to positively impact an admissions officer.

1) Well-written article in school newspaper 

According to the admissions officers Cornerstone Reputation surveyed, the most important and impactful type of content students can showcase online is a well-written article in the school newspaper. Almost 70% of respondents noted that this would give them a positive impression of an applicant.   

2) Well-written article in an independent newspaper

This one is quite similar to the first point and thus just as impactful to admissions officers. Again, nearly 70% of respondents credited this as an impressive thing for a student to have online.

3) Citations for academic achievement 

Often citations for academic achievement go on a student’s actual application, but admissions officers like to see them online as well. This works to corroborate the information on the application, and also gives students an opportunity to showcase an award that maybe didn’t make it onto their transcript.

4) Music or art supplement

Admissions officers like to see that students have passions and interests, and perhaps more importantly that they are committed to these interests. Around 65% of survey respondents noted that a music or art supplement online would give them a positive impression of an applicant.

5) Citations of community service

Most high schoolers are required to do some sort of community service, so it’s a no-brainer to showcase what a student has done and what it meant to them. More than 60% of survey respondents said citations of community service online make an applicant more impressive.

Demonstrate Real Technological Savvy

Admissions officers want to see that applicants are spending their time online in productive ways. They want to see applicants engaging with technology in a meaningful way. Indeed, over 60% of survey respondents noted that seeing work that a student has done online, such as building a website or creating an app, will leave them with a positive impression of that applicant. So go ahead and register those domain names!

There are many ways to create a website without being a master software engineer. Blogs or about.me pages, for example, are great ways to demonstrate engagement with the Internet in a productive way.

And a website is a wonderful way to showcase all of the great content mentioned above. Make sure the website includes all of the above five items–any articles written, any awards won, and art supplements, and any community service. A student’s personal website is the perfect forum to share all of these things.

Want to learn more about how students can get a handle on their online presence? Reach out to Cornerstone Reputation at [email protected] and check out Cornerstone Reputation’s virtual workshop.


Jennifer manages marketing and social media on behalf of Cornerstone Reputation, an educational company committed to empowering students to understand the impact of their online presence. Through tools and expert knowledge, Cornerstone Reputation ensures that the time students spend online contributes to a positive reputation in today’s digitally interconnected world. She has deep roots in Texas. She studied at Texas A&M University, The Bush School of Government and Public Service, and Georgetown University.


About Cornerstone Reputation

Cornerstone Reputation is an educational company committed to empowering students to understand the impact of their online presence. Through tools and knowledge, Cornerstone Reputation seeks to ensure the time students spend online contributes to a positive reputation in today’s digitally interconnected world.

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