The college application process can be daunting for many families trying to help their kids show off their best selves to admissions officials.
But with top colleges receiving more applications than ever before, some kids may need to show off their best social selves to gain an edge over the competition and some experts believe they have just the 'link' to help.
Like most teens, Matthew Martratt loves playing around on social media sites. "We use Twitter, we use Instagram. we use Facebook a lot." When he started applying to colleges, he realized he wanted a social media presence that was a little more grown up.
So he signed up for a course to help him create a professional resume on LinkedIn. "I'm highly involved in my marching band at high school, and I'm also a boy scout, so a lot of my LinkedIn is actually extracurricular activities."
While LinkedIn has long been a go-to for adult job hunters, now college-seeking high school students are flocking to the site, and for good reason. A recent study by Kaplan found 40 percent of admissions officers admit to checking social media sites. Twenty-nine percent said they Googled prospective students.
Alan Katzman is the Founder & CEO of Social Assurity. "Colleges are not looking at their social media for reasons to reject them. They're looking at their social media to find reasons to learn more about them. To accept them," he said.
Katzman founded Social Assurity, which offers digital literacy classes for students. He believes LinkedIn can be key in a college search. "LinkedIn is filled with actionable resources that students can use to learn more about the colleges, to learn about where the alumni are working, what they majored in."
Patrick O'Connor, with the National Association for College Admissions Counseling agrees. "You have the potential for really creating a very positive image as well as making sure your negative image isn't there," he said.
O'Connor, a college admissions expert, says a professional site can be a great tool for students as long as they don't become too future focused. "Students may feel pressure to really perform in a certain way that limits their willingness to try out new things in high school just because it might not 'look good' on their social media account or look good to a college."
As for Matthew, he hopes to use social media to shape his future. "It's such an important part of my life. I want to be able to use it strongly. "
A few years back, LinkedIn lowered the minimum age to create a profile from 18 to 14 years old for students in the U.S.
These accounts are subject to more restrictive privacy settings in order to help keep teens safe online.