The Ivy Coach Daily

November 6, 2016

LinkedIn and College Admission

There was a piece this weekend in “The New York Times” about the role of LinkedIn in college admissions.

One of the core objectives of our college admissions blog is to correct misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process. And we came across one particular misconception while perusing “The New York Times” over the weekend that we felt the need to correct. Maybe it’s because the publication has been doing such incredible reporting on Donald Trump’s failure to pay taxes over the years that they overlooked a piece that, well, is a bit misleading. In a piece by Natasha Singer entitled “New Item on the College Admission Checklist: LinkedIn Profile,” Singer writes about how “social media experts” are advising students to include their LinkedIn profile on their college applications because it’s another way for them to market themselves.

We completely disagree with these “social media experts” and, by the way, what makes a “social media expert” an admissions expert? Here’s how Singer describes it in her piece: “School transcript? Check. Recommendations? Check. Personal statement? Standardized test scores? List of accomplishments? Check. Check. Check. Now some social media experts are advising high school seniors to go even further. They are coaching students to take control of their online personas — by creating elaborate profiles on LinkedIn, the professional network, and bringing them to the attention of college admissions officers. ’They are going to click on your profile,’ says Alan Katzman, the chief executive of Social Assurity, a company that offers courses for high school students on how to shape their online images.”

Oy vey is right. There is an extensive Activities section on the Common Application where students can list all of their activities and include detailed descriptions of each. There are often admissions essays that go something like: “Describe the activity that is most significant to you. Why?” There is no need to include a link to LinkedIn so you can further tout your accomplishments. After all, in highly selective college admissions, it’s not about touting accomplishments. That renders an applicant unlikable when likability is of paramount importance.

Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Don’t sweat it.

And in the piece, just because an admissions officer clicked on a LinkedIn profile that was included in the student’s application, what does that mean? It means they clicked on a link that was on the application. It doesn’t mean they clicked on it because it helped the student’s case for admission in any way. This paragraph from the piece implies that there very well could be a connection between having a great LinkedIn page and getting into a school like Harvard (even though Singer does indeed include a disclaimer in her piece): “Last year, for instance, Mr. Katzman’s company advised a high school senior in the Washington area to create a detailed LinkedIn profile and include a link on his application to Harvard…Soon after, LinkedIn notified the student that someone from Harvard had checked out his profile. The student is now in his first year at Harvard. Whether the LinkedIn profile had any bearing on his admission is unknown.”

Here’s our response in one-sentence or less to this piece: If you can’t detail your activities and passions on the pages of your college applications without including a link to your LinkedIn profile (which is completely unnecessary), you haven’t done a very good job on the applications.

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