The use of social media in the world of college admissions has finally found its voice and that voice belongs to Matthew Martratt. 

Back in 2015, I found Alan Katzman and his organization, Social Assurity, through Twitter. As I recalled in an earlier blog, I developed a sense that the current state of social media training with our college-bound students was severely lacking. When I came upon Alan and his organization, I knew that I found exactly what I was looking for.

When I contacted Alan, we really hit things off and I immediately incorporated Social Assurity’s training platform as an integral part of my college planning practice at Game Theory College Planners. (A growing association of college planners across the country that I work with have also done the same). All of my students get access to Social Assurity’s complete training library. Many college planners have a tendency to look at college from three viewpoints: academic, financial, and social. I think social media should fall under the “social” category. However, this is frequently not the case.

The typical field of college experts tend to share the same message of avoidance when it comes to social media. “Don’t do that!” and “Don’t get caught!” are common themes.  The fact is that many of these experts are just scared or don’t understand the complete scope of social media and that it is here to stay. Ignoring social media doesn't make it go away or make it any less relevant for students as they apply to college. We are glad to present a solution but we continue to see our industry peers miss the mark on social media training.

Let's back to Matthew. Matthew was one of my first students that went though a pilot training program with Game Theory College Planners and Social Assurity. Matt took to the training like a champ. He had his laptop and actually built his LinkedIn profile in real time as the course progressed. You can listen to this session that I recorded in a previous podcast.  His efforts have paid-off and recently caught the attention of Natasha Singer of the New York Times. Matthew was featured recently in this New York Times article.

I think this article really validates Matthew and our efforts. This article also spotlights the clear benefits of utilizing social media and, more specifically, LinkedIn as a tool for the college admissions process. As expected, social media will always have its detractors and this article was no exception. Here is an example…

“Kids from privileged families tend to do more of those things both offline and online — joining school clubs, writing for their school newspaper, getting tutoring so their grades go up, doing SAT preparation,” says Vicky Rideout, a researcher who studies how teenagers use technology.

Matthew and I were immediately upset from that particular quote because it implies that social media and LinkedIn creates a division among different socioeconomic classes. Vicky could not be further from the truth. In my experience (and Matthew’s) many students, regardless of socioeconomic status, accomplish many great things. Internet access and social media are items that many families make room for regardless of household income. I myself came from a family that was on the low side of the socioeconomic ladder and I managed to pursue various extra curricular activities. I was even Junior Class President. Not bad for number 4 out of 6 kids from a household of 8 pulling in about 60K a year. I am also counseling a high school valedictorian and 2017 graduate that comes from a family making less than 40K a year.

Upon personal reflection, Matthew does not identify his own situation as “privileged” either. Matthew is simply a very hard working and dedicated student. In a recent interview, Matthew stated that LinkedIn does not create a disparity among students. Instead, he felt that “LinkedIn levels the playing field.” Matthew and I share the belief that social media and LinkedIn will make colleges even more accessible, not less. Social media and LinkedIn can only increase opportunities for high school students. All that is required is willingness to work and learn, not a large account balance. 

Let's stop finding excuses to exclude social media from the college planning process. Let's accept it. Let's learn from it and turn it to our collective advantage. Stay tuned for more from Matthew. Just the other day, we recorded a news segment that will soon air nationwide. We can’t wait to see it. We can't wait to spread the word.

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