Prep Talk Blog > March 2011

A recent study from Kaplan Test Prep reveals that 82% of college admissions officers “indicated that their respective schools used Facebook‘to recruit prospective students,’ as reported on PCMag.com.

While the fact that you “like” Katy Perry will likely not cost you admission to your dream school – even if the college admissions officer detests her music – the person you present on Facebook, along with the wall photos, comments and more, will help fill out the story of you.

So with all the work you put into college applications, essays, interviews and more, you want to be careful about what you are putting out there about yourself, as well as what is out there that you cannot control. On Facebook, consider keeping your account private. And periodically Google yourself so you know what a college recruiter might find. This will also help you prepare for looking for your future job because employers also check social media sites when reviewing prospective employees.

Also of interest from this survey is that the college admissions officers aren’t the only ones doing the Facebook stalking. Eighty percent of respondents said prospective students tried to friend them.

So what do you think: Is social media a good strategy that could give you an edge in college admissions, or is this one realm where erring on the traditional might put you in a better light?

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This post was written by Andrea Kornstein, a writer who covers issues related to the college experience.

You’ve spent countless hours combing through college brochures, touring campuses (both in person and virtually) and painstakingly perfecting your application essay. You anxiously played the waiting game, fretting about which schools would grant you that coveted acceptance letter. And you heavily weighed the pros and cons of every university you got into, agonizing over which was ultimately the best place for you. Now you can finally kick back and relax. There’s just one thing: You need to pick a major.

Don’t worry; there’s no need to hyperventilate. There are no wrong decisions. Your college major won’t lock you into a solitary career track. It certainly isn’t the be-all and end-all, and it won’t be the sole defining aspect of your life. Plenty of undergrads change their majors during college, and plenty more graduates change careers throughout their professional lives.

Of course, you will eventually need to make a decision about your college major. Here are some tips to ease you into the selection process.

9 Tips to Help You Pick a College Major

Take Some Time to Explore Different College Majors

College is all about being exposed to new ideas and new experiences. You’ll have the opportunity to investigate subjects and fields you were never able to while in high school. You could easily uncover passions and interests you didn’t know existed. Who knows? Maybe you’re destined to become a famous cultural anthropologist or a renowned hydrologist.

Don’t Immediately Discount a Subject

Conversely, don’t automatically rule out a discipline because you disliked it in high school. Academic subjects you once thought boring could become fascinating in a new setting. Perhaps you are a math whiz after all!

Consider Your Current Interests and Hobbies

We know this might sound a little obvious. However, you should take some time to really reflect on what you enjoy doing, both in and out of school. There is a great likelihood you can find a corresponding college major.

Think About What You Value

What do you think will be most important to you upon graduating? Are you hoping to make a lot of money right out of the gate? Do you want a job that directly helps people? Will you thrive on high pressure and prestige, or are laid-back vibes and non-corporate entities a must? Are you seeking stability, or is adventure necessary? It’s likely that an accounting major and a ceramics major will lead to far different answers and outcomes.

Check Out the Course Catalogue and Class Syllabi

While they might not be as intriguing as the latest best seller sitting on your nightstand, the course catalogue and class syllabi will give you better insight into what a particular major entails. You’ll learn the types of reading and assignments that will be required of you. If you get goose bumps, perhaps it’s worth exploring. And if it elicits an automatic groan, well it might be best to move on.

Talk to Your Advisors

Let them know your interests and academic strengths. They know what most disciplines demand and what it takes to tackle certain subjects. And they can certainly highlight both classes that are popular with students in general and ones that might hold particular appeal for you.

Ask an Upperclassman

Hey, more seasoned students have been there. It’s quite possible they struggled with their decisions as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for some advice and learn how they went about the process.

Consult Industry Professionals

Is there a certain field you’re hoping to work in after you graduate? Try and reach out to people who are currently active in that particular industry. What skill-sets do they find important (or even mandatory) for success? What did they study in college? Does it relate to the job they now hold? Learning about the path someone else took can be invaluable, and it can help inform the direction you ultimately choose to take.

You Can Choose More Than One College Major

You read that correctly. Don’t worry if your heartstrings are tugging at multiple fields. Most schools will allow you to double (or even triple) major. And if you’re overwhelmed by the thought of double-majoring but want to gain a breadth of knowledge on a particular subject, you can also consider a minor.

We know -- commitment can be hard. However, you need to remember that there are no wrong choices. Your major will not necessarily determine your career. Doctors have majored in art history and professional musicians have majored in economics. As long as you select a subject you find interesting and engaging, you’ll do just fine.

Get more expert tips on choosing a college major here.

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This blog post has been written by Patrick O’Brien, author of college success book Making College Count


Your student is off to college and you’d like to help. Fantastic! To be successful, you’ll need to take the right approach. Here are five things you can do to become a great resource for your student.

1. Do Your Homework

If you wanted advice on something, you’d want to talk to an expert. At a minimum, you’d want to talk to someone who is knowledgeable. At this point, why should your student look to you as a college success resource? Even if you went to college, how recently have you spent meaningful time on a college campus? When you were in school, things like electronic blackboards, professor rating websites, laptops, and Facebook didn’t exist. Invest some time in becoming more knowledgeable about college and campus life today. Learn the secrets to college success in today’s environment.

2. Agree on Expectations Up Front

Because you are helping to fund your student’s college experience, it is fair for you to discuss expectations with him. Have your student set goals and tell you how he will achieve them. Do this before the student goes to campus and review the goals at mid-terms or at a mutually agreeable interval. Remember, a fast start is critical for any student at any school. Too many students dig themselves in a hole early (with poor grades), and it negatively impacts their entire college experiences. Success -- and the habits required to achieve it -- starts week one of your student’s first term on campus.

3. Follow – Don’t Lead

Your student needs to lead the process. Give him tools, support, and advice when possible, but understand that you cannot dictate this process or “will” college success upon your student. Offer your student success strategies and principles. Ask questions to see if he is implementing them. If you try to control the process, your student will become frustrated and shut you out. If you can help him manage the important issues, the smaller issues will take care of themselves.

4. Pick Your Battles

To have a positive impact, choose meaningful elements of the process to discuss. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Your student is an adult now. You can’t run the entire show. Determine when and how you can have the most impact, and focus on those items only. Otherwise, the frequency of communication from your student may quickly diminish, along with your opportunities to provide help
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5. Treat Your Student Like an Adult

If you treat your student as an adult, he will respond to you. If you don’t, he will quickly come to the conclusion that you just “don’t get it” and may begin to share less and less with you about his hopes and dreams. Offer college success advice to your student as you would to your spouse or a sibling, not a child. This may not be easy at first, and your student might become a bit suspicious if you haven’t gradually been trying this approach in your interactions with him. Don’t give up. You’ll get much farther this way and lower the risk of your advice falling on deaf ears.

You can play an important role in your student achieving college success. You just need to be knowledgeable and take the right approach to be successful in doing so!

It’s no longer enough to just “go” to college; you need a winning game plan to graduate and create great career opportunities for your future. The proven Making College Count approach to college success can help! Learn more about Making College Count here.

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Do you think it's fair if college admissions professionals "google" you or look at your Facebook profile during the admissions process?
Yes. If it's out there, it's fair game.
No. If it's not part of my official application package, it shouldn't be considered.
I don't know.
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