Holy Crap! College Recruiters Look at my Instagram Page?

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Houston Hispanic College and Career Day

Recruiters look at my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page

Times have changed. No longer do college recruiters just look at your high school grades and college application. Today, they look at your online profile and behavior. Your tweets, Facebook pics, Instagram pictures, Youtube videos and blog comments now all play a part in your college application. Don’t take it from me here is what a few admission officers have to say:

college applicants

College Recruiters check out social media pages

College Recruiters check out Instagram pages

College Recruiters check out Instagram pages

Here is a story that the NY Times published about a high school senior who attended a college campus information session. During the presentation, she posted offensive comments on Twitter about fellow attendees, repeatedly using a profane word. “It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that. We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,” – the dean of admissions and financial aid.” The college ultimately denied the student admission.

So, with that said, if you are applying to college or a job, here are a few things you should do right now to clean up your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

#1 Use SimpleWash


SimpleWash is a simple, if slightly imperfect, free tool that helps you find inappropriate content on your Facebook account (it also works on Twitter). It scours your account and compares all the text it finds, including photo captions and comments from other people on your Facebook account, against a list of bad words. The list goes well behind the dirty words not allowed on network television and includes things like “beer” and “sexy.” Once Simplewa.sh finds the content, it helps you edit or remove it by directing you to the page or post where it lives—you still have to manually hide or delete it.

#2 Control your Facebook Privacy Settings

According to a recent survey Kaplan survey, 29% of admission officers use Google and look at Facebook profiles to screen applicants. SimpleWash probably did a good job at cleaning up a lot of the offensive language and inappropriate photos on Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t mean that ‘Facebook friends’ can’t tag you in any future embarrassing public photos or posts. Here are a few tips to help prevent that from occurring:

Only allow people you ‘friend to view your page. Click on the arrow tab near “home” at the top of the page>scroll down to privacy settings>control your default settings>switch from “public” to “friends”.

Facebook Settings

Set your profile up so that you can review posts ‘friends’ tag you in before they appear on your timeline. This will help control any inappropriate photo-tagging mix ups. Under the Privacy Settings go to Timeline and Tagging>Edit Settings>Review Posts Friends Tag You in Before They Appear on Your Timeline>On.

Review TagsReview your Facebook application permissions and remove anything that you are not actively using anymore. Go to Settings > Account Settings > Apps. Be sure to click “Show all apps” at the bottom of the listing.

Facebook applicationsReview your activity log. You can hand-pick through your content easiest using the Activity Log, which you can find on your profile page. The Activity Log lets you drill down by content type, such as photo, photos of you, tagged photos, and so forth, so you can focus on one area of your Facebook account at a time while finding images to delete or hide.

Facebook Activity

If you want, you can make it difficult for people to find you on the social media site. After all, the harder it is to locate your profile the less chances an admission officer has of finding anything to hinder your acceptance.  To do this go to Privacy Settings>Apps, Games, Website>Public Search>Edit Settings> Disable Public Search.

Last but not least, view your profile as how the public would see it. Clean up poor grammar, offensive language, any racial slurs. Remove and delete photos with inappropriate clothing.  Check out your Likes – remove any unnecessary pages. And don’t allow yourself to be tagged in public photos that show you as anything but a fine, upstanding young citizen!

#3 Clean up your Tweets

Twitter doesn’t give you nearly as many features as Facebook does for assessing your data. The first third party tool you should make ample use of is AllMyTweets. This simple site quickly generates a page of – you guessed it – all your tweets. Actually, that’s false … just your last 3,200 tweets, which is the limit Twitter will return. If you want or need the real thing, you can request your Twitter archive. Head to settings, and hit the archive link. It will be email to you for download.

Next, you should take stock of who you’re following – anyone done anything super messed up recently? Cut ‘em lose. And if you’re just generally a little scared of what might be in your personal stream of tweets, sign up for TweetEraser and you can mass delete using its filter feature. Last but definitely not least, head over to your settings and check out what apps you’ve given permission to – and make sure you’re OK with what you see.

#4 Clean Up Your Instagram Profile


The risk of posting or sharing a photo that will damage your online reputation continues to grow every time you add a new photo to Instagram. Here are some tips for cleaning up your Instagram profile and preventing reputation damage:

Delete Unprofessional Comments and Likes. The individuals you associate with could impact how you are perceived online. An unprofessional comment with profanity or a politically incorrect joke could reflect poorly on your character. Similarly, liking photos of strangers in provocative poses or of friends breaking the law could be interpreted as an endorsement of these activities.

Remove Unprofessional Photos. When deciding whether or not to delete a photo, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you would feel if college admissions officers, hiring managers, family members, or your boss saw the photo. Any images showing underage drinking, binge drinking, drug use, obscene gestures, and partial undress (think swimsuit photos) are best left off of your profile. Reputation911.com shares some more good tips about cleaning up your Instagram profile here.

In conclusion, there’s no shame in having had posted an embarrassing photo, comment or tweet. We’ve all done it before. That’s the great thing about living in the digital age: It’s all easily recorded. And this means that like the attic full of memories and mementos, sometimes you have to clean out the junk.

Learn more Interview Preparation Tips for the Rest of Us here. (If I didn’t follow these tips, I’d be waking up every morning going to some dead-end job).

I am a first generation college graduate. I also have an MBA and am a Manager at a major electricity company. In my spare time, I teach at University of Houston Downtown, where I educate students not only on the subject I am teaching, but also on self-motivation and teaching them that their background does not dictate your future.

How to lower College Tuition Cost – Infographic

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In 1980 the average 4 year college tuition (when you take both public and private universities into consideration) was $23,000. In 1995 it jumped to $44,000. Would you like to take a guess at how much the average 4 year college tuition is now?

It’s $70,000. Yes $70,000 which means that most college students have to borrow money. The average debt per student is now $27,000. $27,000 is a lot of money. $27,000 can buy you a new Ford F150 truck. It can buy you 30, 40, maybe 50 pairs of Jimmy Choo shoes.

So with that said, I am going to share with you an infographic on how we as a society can lower college tuition cost.  

5 ways to lower the cost of college tuition

5 ways to lower the cost of college tuition

The first way to lower college tuition cost is to allow for Dual Enrollment. How about allowing students to be simultaneously accepted by a community college and a four year public institution of higher education and, and when they complete their associate degree from the community college, they are automatically enrolled in the four-year institution? This type of program can reduce college education cost anywhere from 30 to 50%.

Second idea, what about establishing a three-year Bachelor’s degree? This would not only increase graduation rates, but also improve college education cost.  

As for number three, anyone ever hear about the study to determine how long a shrimp can run on a treadmill? Yes, there was a study by University professors to determine how long a shrimp can run on a treadmill. So number 3 is simply get rid of silly research studies.

Number 4, wouldn’t it be nice to keep you salary and only have to work two days a week? That would be like living in Alice in Wonderland, but for many professor, it is now common to teach only two classes per semester. So number four is to increase teacher loads.

Lastly, move more Classes Online – Online learning will become to education what the forward pass was to football. Research shows that students who did online courses learn just as well as those who took conventional courses. Online courses or hybrid courses could cost half what conventional classes do because fewer teachers are needed.

So in conclusion, it would be folly to imagine the cost of a 4 year college tuition to ever go down or the starting annual salary of a college grad to skyrocket, but its not too hard to image any of the ideas I mentioned now like getting rid of the silly research studies or increasing teachers workload would it? Such ideas should strongly be considered, if not, we as a society run the risk of having our future generation start to perceive college education as simply being not worth it because of the enormous debt they will have to incur and the fact that such debt will make it harder for them to buy a home and possibly even start a family.

The most important predictor of Student achievement is Teacher Effectiveness

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If Teacher effectiveness is the most important predictor of student achievement, then why are we spending time,money and personnel on creating evaluations and assessments of teacher practices instead of developing the teachers in the classroom?

This is a great question that Mike Webster, a former high school teacher as well as professional developer at a local education fund, asks. Mike argues that Given the prolonged push for reform to our educational system and little progress being made to change the system,maybe it is time we reevaluate the problems for what they are. “In order for this to happen, however, the following ten key conversations need to change in education”.

Prekindergarten:  The conversation seems the most logical place to start given that it is where every child should start.  As districts across the nation grapple with how much,if any,resource to allocate to full day prekindergarten programs,child advocates and basically anyone with sound logic has argued for the full and wide offerings of strong prekindergarten everywhere.  States have already set learning standards for this age,yet school systems have been slow to allocate funds and facilities to this very essential learning time.  The first way to move this conversation into something more productive is to erase the word prekindergarten for the more appropriate “early childhood education.” It is certainly time we begin to acknowledge this very necessary entry point of school in the lives of children so they can have the best possible chance at success that any current research has shown to exist.

High Stakes Tests:The mad frenzy in American education known as high stakes testing has grossly gotten out of control.  Blame it on NCLB,on greedy publishers,or on politicians—it doesn’t really matter.  The fact is as an educational reform,high stakes tests have failed to make a dent in student achievement.  The measures themselves are faulty,overtly too objective and dismissive of real life situations such as language barriers,social and emotional well being,and relevancy to actual lifelong learning. We shouldn’t be talking about how students aren’t measuring up to passé standards developed and dependent on blasé assessments.  Instead,the conversation around standardized assessment requires careful,reconsideration of how assessment should occur.  Rick Stiggins,among others,has shown the need to move to a multiple approach of assessment based on the type of learning as opposed to simple paper and pencil or bubble sheet avenues.  No one seems to be listening,however.  Until we begin talking about more authentic assessments connected to the real lives of students and the dynamic world of work and society,we will be living in the past,not the future.

To continue reading, please visit Edubiquity.org. Thank you.

What is the percentage of students in Houston that fail to graduate?


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Did you know that 47% of students in the greater Houston area fail to graduate? This dropout rate is the fourth worst in America. Even if the rate was just 20%, the future does not look bright for Houston.

What can we do to help motivate students to stay in school?

Volunteer at Communities In Schools (CIS)! Their mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and to achieve in life.

Is it proven to work?

Yes! 99% of high school CIS students stay in school. CIS in Houston has a 30 year history of success. In fact, the ICF verified that CIS is the only program to make a meaningful impact on both increasing graduation rates and decreasing the dropout rate.

When these at-risk children know that someone cares and is there to inspire them when the come across whatever challenges they may face, it builds hope for them, it makes them stronger, helps them to persevere. When there is support, there is a desire to go on to achieve the success they might never have thought possible.

How is CIS funded?

Funding comes from the state, from school districts, grants, businesses and private donors. However, this year’s state budget zeroed out CIS funding completely. This means that at least 10,000 Houston students will be without CIS support. Thousands more students across the state will also be without CIS support. This is very harmful not only to our kids, but also the state since:

  1. The CIS program actually saves the state money by helping more children graduate
  2. Dropout prevention programs put money back into the state treasury through increased tax revenues from graduates and also decrease the future amount the state would more likely have to spend on welfare, medical costs and prison time for children who have dropped out of school.

What can I do?

Lets help these at-risk students become productive members of our city and write to our state officials expressing our support for Communities In Schools. If you are in the business community, support the best economic stimulus program around: an educated workforce in Houston.

Original article written by Linda Gale White, “Education aid program saves money for Texas”, Houston Chronicle, May 15, 2011.

HISD has an opportunity to transform schools

Original story by James Calaway, Houston Chronicle, Sept. 26, 2010

Stop Press! America’s educational system – public schools – are failing millions of children who need to be rescued from an inferior education. (Yes, this is how the story opens).

Interesting article recently featured in the Chronicle – “Reinventing Education in Houston”. Take directly from the story – “The Houston Independent School District has heard the alarm, and there are those who believe Houston is now well-positionedto become ground zero for this country’s education reform movement – to be the district that reinvents public education so that it works for all students.

Here’s more excerpts from the story – “HISD has not been waiting passively for someone to provide an answer; it has the will, the leadership and the support to transform the district into a model for thre rest of the nation.

-“Fundamental systemwide improvements that lead to increased academic achievement for every student are possible when you have inspiring, highly skilled teachers in every class who are motivated by principals confidently leading their schools.”

Umm…. where are the excerpts about the parents responsibility?

Here’s more – from the story ‘Our Teachers hold the Key to an effective Education’, by Bill Ratliff and John Fitzpatrick in the Houston Chronicle on Oct. 1, 2010

-“Behind every student success story in our public schools is an effective teacher.”

-“Without good teachers, our students will not be in position to succeed in college, careers or life.”

Hmm…. I had some good teachers in my life, but I have to give the majority of my learning ability and desire to my parents. I still recall my dad making me write out sentences with the new words I was learning in my spelling class every week and giving it to him every Friday as part of his homework. I recall my dad making me read books every summer when summer reading was not even required. I believe parents hold the keys to effective education, but that is just my opinion.


Houston Middle School tries new Classroom approach

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Original story by Ericka Mellon, Houston Chronicle, Sept. 26, 2010

Taking a page out of the way colleges teach students – large classrooms with lots of students – Lannie Milon Jr., principal at Thomas Middle School, has his students attend class in large spaces like the library and auditorium. Each class has 75 students on average and between five and nine teachers. One teachers generally takes the lead while the others assist students who need help. Teachers switch off taking charge based on who is best at explaining the topic of the day. Teachers can learn from eachother and if a student misbehaves, instruction doesn’t have to stop.

“When you don’t have to spend so much time on managing a class, you can deliver a more rigorous lesson” says Milon.

How are teachers responding to these new initiatives?

In the beginning they felt like he was invading their privacy and some even wanted to leave. Now some are starting to embrace the idea. Regardless, this is a bold and fresh idea and I am very interested in learning whether or not this approach will be successful.


Hispanics need Texas grant money to go to college?

Hispanics need grant money to go to college? “Officials say college aid cuts would set back Hispanics” article featured in the Houston Chronicle on September 13, 2010, says that there will be a budget shortfall for the program that provides grant money for needy students. Here is a snipet from the story..

“It would be catastrophic if we cut financial aid just as that front edge of the changing demographic hits our colleges. (said Raymund Paredes – Texas commissioner of higher eduction) Those students will go home to their neighborhoods and say ‘Higher education is not for me’.”

This is upsetting that there will be a cut in grant money. For me, it is even more upsetting knowing that I went to graduate school here in the States with students from Russia, France, Romania and other countries and I have to pay a huge student loan bill every month for the next 25 years while these foreigners 1. Do not have any student loan debt to pay off, 2. Were actually given an allowance from the University while in school, 3. and the University found them high paying jobs in the States upon graduation. However, I am not upset about the ‘cut’ in Texas grant money since this is not Europe and we are not expecting the Government to provide free education for us. What upsets me is thinking that college students will give up on going to college if there is no grant money there to assist them with tuition.

This is not how an American thinks. An American believes in himself/herself and overcomes adversity. So what if there is no grant money or scholarships. If a student gives up going to college because they did not get any grant money, chances are, they give up on other things that are meant to better their well-being. Mr. Paredes, the intentions of this ‘grant money’ program are good, but the true factor of anyone’s success in whatever endeavor they choose lies in their ability to overcome adversity and second, the hard work they put into their profession. A  student who really wants to go to college and is not able to receive grant money should brush that off his/her shoulder, and not say something like “Higher education is not for me”.

Men are made stronger on realization that the helping hand they need is at the end of their own arm.- Sidney J. Phil
Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.- Frank Tyger

Original story by Melissa Ludwig, San Antonio Express News