Facebook and jobsLast week's headlines about the depressing job environment faced by your offspring -- and mine -- made for interesting dinner table conversation. I'm sure many of you, like me, discussed the merits of picking one of the science, math or technology majors that seem most likely to lead to secure employment. I'm similarly sure that some of you felt a little hypocritical, considering the BA in English (or philosophy or anthropology or sociology) you earned yourself.

To college students, I have this to say: Major in what you want to major in. But if it's something that doesn't offer a clear track into the workforce, it is your job to stuff your résumé to the gills with internships and other real experience that a future employer can use to justify bringing you onto the payroll.

Just remember that your résumé isn't the only thing job recruiters will have an eye on. They'll be looking at your Facebook page and Twitter feed as well.

However, here's where high schoolers and their parents need to pay attention: The folks who hand out scholarships are checking those social media sites too. So says Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of Fastweb.com. His site conducted a survey, in conjunction with the National Scholarship Providers Association, to parse out how social media can effect the scholarship awards process.

Parents probably won't be surprised to hear that about a quarter of the scholarship providers he surveyed use web searches or social media sites to dig up information about applicants -- but their kids might be.

So it's time to help your kids do a clean sweep of their social media profiles, particularly because we are in the thick of it when it comes to scholarships -- many are awarded in May. And with educational debt at record highs -- and a recent report from the AP showing that 53% of fresh college grads are either unemployed or underemployed -- every little piece of financial help matters. Here are a few tips:
Know the red flags. Certain issues are going to be big stumbling blocks: provocative photographs, inappropriate remarks, illegal activities, discriminatory or insensitive language, negative comments. Kantrowitz says three-quarters of the scholarship providers were looking for these as signs that the student may not be a good fit for their organization. Remember to dig deep: With Facebook's recent switch to timeline profiles, users can quickly search a few years back with the click of a button.

Get rid of "text speak." We all know how kids talk these days (if you don't, check out this chronicle of a teen's texts for an evening from New York Magazine). Numbers instead of words, extra letters, lack of punctuation. "Scholarship providers want to see if the writing style in a real, natural setting is the same online as it was in their application. Otherwise, there are concerns that the student didn't write the essay, and that's one reason why someone might get rejected," says Kantrowitz.

Use Facebook as a mini resume. It's not necessary to list every single activity, but giving prominence to a few will work in your student's favor. Likewise, eliminate anything that reflects poorly on them -- right down to complaints about homework.

Correct your settings. If these accounts aren't set up to be private, now's the time to make that switch. Kantrowitz says it is
primarily the profiles of finalists who are reviewed, and providers may ask your teen to "like" their page or friend them on Facebook or Twitter. That's a good sign that the account will soon be under scrutiny.

-- with Arielle O'Shea

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Monica L. Matthews

The fast is that scholarship judges and organizations are looking at social media before deciding on what student deserves their money. Keep your online presence clean and something to be proud of and you will have a better chance of winning scholarships. Invasion of privacy or not, it's out there!

June 22 2012 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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May 04 2012 at 9:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

only way to get a scholarship in america is to black or indian extremely poor or smart or athletic or not be an american at all so as far as facebook goes unless you have made claim to be one of those and your not then yes clear your facebook pics

May 04 2012 at 4:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I only use Facebook to share cute signs from the Intenet with other family members and a few friends. No one in our group has any kind of risque photos or postings. It is more like a daily family reunion sharing kids photos and information, vs trying to use it as place for dating.

If I were to go looking for a job, I would delete all of my social media pages or turn them to private. Most federal employees and government contractors in Washington D.C. do not have Facebook pages due to having security clearances. Folks could post questionable information about them on it making them subject to being exploited by unfriendly international entities.

Facebook and social media pages should be scrutinized to see how any info posted on them could be exploited by others to their advantage that could help them burn you, to make them look better if you are involved in any kind of career competition - educational or work. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean that doing it is always the best choice. Learn how to discriminate when choosing to get involved in participating in various online social media venues.

May 04 2012 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Facebook is just bad news. Go out and get a life.

May 04 2012 at 4:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Anyone who ever thought that anything they post on any social media would be private was seriously either lacking in common sense or thought it didn't matter. The internet has opened up a whole new wealth of information that was never available before. Even if you have designated your postings as "private" that doesn't mean they are. Anyone to whom you've allowed access to your "private" postings is capable of passing on whatever they please to whomever they please. In this modern age of cyberspace and instant communication via social networks, one very old warning trumps everything else: Once a secret is told to even one other person it's no longer a secret.

May 04 2012 at 3:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Why would they look at if you use text speech? People change their patterns of speach and writing to fit the issue. You would not talk in homie or redneck speech to your employer, and you would not use text speech to write a paper. Text speech is used for speed and normally done on the fly, without second thoughts. Writting a paper is not done for speed and after many thoughts. A Scholarship request that is sent is most often after several revisions.

May 04 2012 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this is total unadulterated Bullsh!t, an invasion of privacy,

May 04 2012 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The sheep better turn into a PC puzzy.

May 04 2012 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply