How to Use Social Media to Choose the Best College For You

A student in a pink jacket and a red beret uses her smartphone outside of the CRAFT Center on February 14, 2023.
Karin Higgins/UC Davis

It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In high school, an AP photography assignment instructed me to find a fall image that spoke to me. Immediately I remembered the picture I had seen on the UC Davis Instagram that made me feel so excited at the idea of leaves changing color. It was something I had never experienced in my desert hometown of La Quinta, CA. Saying Yes to UC Davis takes just one word, but this picture provided me well over a thousand words worth of Personal Insight Question responses. Let's discuss how you can use social media in your college admissions process.

Follow universities that interest you during the application process

Universities post more than just pretty pictures of their campus. They also post about their research, achievements, campus events, student perspectives and more. Follow the universities you’re interested in to see if they are talking about the things that matter to you.

From a social media intern’s perspective, here’s which platforms I would go to for different needs:

Instagram: Campus culture

The main UC Davis Instagram account (@ucdavis) captures the university’s beautiful campus, important values and campus culture. In-feed posts provide an overarching synopsis of the university’s public presence whereas Instagram stories can give you a deeper look at how a university discusses topics on a more day-to-day basis. Instagram Live is also a fantastic feature, particularly to UC Davis, where live-campus tours occur semi-annually and give you the chance to take a tour from the comfort of your own home.

Other great Instagram accounts to follow are ones managed by student organizations. Aggie Studios @aggiestudios, a student-run channel, focuses on creating social media content around student life. Here you might learn about what activities and events are happening on-campus, so you have an idea of what to expect when you get here!

TikTok: UC Davis from students's perspectives

UC Davis’ TikTok account (@ucdavis) is relatively new and growing. This unique account is entirely student-produced by STREAM, UC Davis’ student social media team. Here you’ll find videos created authentically by students about campus animals, resource centers on campus and recaps of campus events. Look to see if universities you’re interested in have TikTok accounts to learn more about their students.

Twitter: Research and impact

Because Twitter allows for resharing content, it’s the best social platform to learn more about the university’s research and its global impact. UC Davis has many departments on Twitter and the main UC Davis Twitter account (@ucdavis) does a great job of resharing and uplifting accomplishments across campus. It’s also a great place for direct access to resources on websites.

YouTube: In-depth look into student experiences, campus resources and more

YouTube accounts can deliver longer, engaging videos that provide more context to what a campus is all about. UC Davis’ YouTube account (@ucdavis) features a variety of content including a UC Davis episode of The College Tour (a streaming series that showcases campuses across the nation), Aggie Animals (a series featuring all of the animal barns on campus), and Real Places of UCD (an MTV-crib style series showcasing the various resource centers on campus). Search a school’s YouTube account if you’re looking for engaging videos that give you more perspective on all aspects of the university.

Facebook: Resources for parents

Have a parent or supporter that is also curious about learning more about a particular university? Send them to Facebook! They have content that focuses less on student life and more on the university as a whole. Last year, we held a live panel for families and supporters to ask their questions of current Aggie parents in both English and Spanish. 

LinkedIn: Alumni and university success stories

The UC Davis LinkedIn (@uc-davis) highlights innovative research, alumni success stories and recaps of significant events on campus. If research and career success are important to you, check out LinkedIn to learn more about the impact of your favorite schools.

See if a university has an admissions channel

Admissions channels are accounts specifically meant to tell you how and why you should apply. They help remind you about important deadlines, give you an insight into campus life and connect you with students in hopes that you might resonate with their backgrounds and experiences. Our admissions channels are primarily on Instagram (@ucdavisadmissions) but key information is distributed across all UC Davis channels so you never miss a deadline.

Reach out through DMs

Social media is a great way to reach out to people directly. The social media team here at UC Davis is committed to being as helpful as possible when prospective and admitted students reach out. On the back-end of the flagship channels, we will try to answer every admissions-related question you have. And if we don’t know the answer, we’ll reach out to our community to provide you with the right link or contact info. If your question is a little more niche, like about a resource center, campus sports or a particular college, check out our social media directory. Explore their account while you’re at it! You might just answer your own questions.

Prepping for this next step in your life can seem overwhelming – and easy to put off. However, social media is an easy way to learn more about the colleges you are interested in. And who knows, it might take one picture to make you want to say yes, just like it did for me. 

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