Technology and the College Application Process

Technology — and specifically the Internet — plays an increasingly important role in the college application process, but you need to be aware of some issues that could negatively impact your chances of acceptance into your college of choice.

Almost every college requires a student's e-mail address and sometimes the parents' e-mail address. Consider what your e-mail address says about you. Some students have old addresses from when they were in middle school that are no longer appropriate. Take an objective look at your e-mail address; if it says sexymama@xyz.com, ihateschool@wyz.com, or something like partyanimal@xyz.com, it's probably advisable that you change your e-mail address to something more toned down.

Students also don't realize that colleges can and sometimes do access Facebook and MySpace profiles. Be very careful what you post during the college application process. (For that matter, high schools and employers can also look at postings.) Photos and postings of drinking binges, standing around in your underwear, spreading rumors about others, or using inappropriate language (whether it's vulgar or just insensitive) can be the kiss of death for some colleges and honors programs.

Also, be vigilant about passwords and giving people you hardly know access to your accounts; it's happened before that one student hacks into other people's profiles to sabotage their chances of college acceptance by posting harmful photos. Do you really have 600 close friends on Facebook? Take a look at your profile and delete anyone you're not 100-percent sure about. You should change the security access to your account and delete any inappropriate material.

On the positive side, technology has made applying to college somewhat easier and more accessible. The Common Application and the Universal College Application are two of the most popular ways to apply to college. An emerging trend is to develop electronic or e-portfolios, which colleges can review to provide them with even more information about your talents, skills, and abilities. These portfolios can contain creative works, images, links, research papers, and other documents highlighting your various accomplishments. If you're careful, technology can be very useful during the college admissions process. If you're not careful, you may inadvertently give negative information to colleges, which can be used to reject your application.

Technology isn't limited to helping recruiters decide whether they like you; use it to find out whether a college is right for you. You can obtain students' perspectives of college life through blogs, videos, and chat rooms that can be accessed on a college's Web site. You also have the opportunity to talk to current students about academic and campus life. Talking directly to students can offer new insights into a potential college.