Spring Signing Week '12: Watch that Status!
by Marcia Frost, 12 April 2012
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When it comes to getting ready to go to college, you spend hours perfecting your essay and sending letters to prospective coaches. You have also (hopefully) watched yourself carefully on the court to make sure your behavior won't turn a coach off. The one thing that many players forget is that they also need to watch themselves online.
A recent look at Facebook showed pictures of a high school junior drinking shots at a party - and a player who recently signed discussing what he does not like about his new coach. On Twitter, a prospective student athlete is using profanity, while another is offering details about the coaches he doesn't like.
If you think that no one is paying attention to what you put online, think again. After the coaches are done looking at your online profiles, they are on Google finding out everything they can about you. And, whether or not you have officially "friended" them, they are making sure to follow everything you say and do online.
You may think that you are able to keep your photos and messages private, but it's not that simple. Facebook is constantly changing the rules and those status reports you thought only your closest friends could see are suddenly available to everyone. Faster than you can click and hide every single thing you've written the last few years, a college coach is reading it and advising her assistant that maybe you aren't a good fit for the school.
As for Twitter, it's very easy to put up 140 characters quickly without thinking about what you are saying. It's less likely that you have your Tweets protected, and so all of those statements are public and searchable.
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but remember that it works both ways. Your freedom to write it is someone else's freedom to read it. A college coach has the freedom to decide whether or not to put you on his or her team, based partly on how you act online. If you have partying photos everywhere, he may be concerned that you will be doing that while on his team. If you are using foul language or saying derogatory things about your teammates, he may be afraid that you will give the team a bad reputation.
It's not just about the coaches when it comes to social media. You need to also consider that what you do online is being checked by admission officers who could deem you as not appropriate for their schools. Then there are those who are considering whether or not to give you a scholarship and how much to make that financial aid.
The important thing to remember is that changing your social profile is one of the easiest things that you can possibly do (certainly easier than mastering a new backhand or dramatically raising your grade point average). Follow these steps and you are sure to increase your chances of getting on the team that you want - and staying on it:
Clean up your Facebook
Start from the first day you were on Facebook and take a good hard look at everything that is there. If you have any doubt about something, delete it. Every compromising photo and inappropriate status update needs to be gone. You are welcome to change privacy settings, but there's no guarantee they will hold on the next Facebook update.