4 Ways College Students Can Ruin Their Reputation Online

Sharing Racy Pictures with All and Sundry

With apps and programs such as Instagram and Twitpic available to anyone with a smartphone or a tablet, people share all the details of their lives. It’s one thing to share countless food pictures, however, and quite another to share questionable photographs. You may think you’ve locked down the evidence of the night you spent in Atlantic City or your wild South Padre Island weekend, but if you’ve posted it online then someone important will find it. Racy photos will make people in authority question not only your reputation but also your integrity.

Speaking Your Mind Without Using Your Brain

Image via Flickr by drubuntu
The right to share your opinion is a wonderful thing. People on the Internet, especially in social media, love touting their First Amendment right, but they don’t realize that although they have the right to say what they like, other people also have the right to react. If you go on rabid political rants, share offensive opinions, or make tasteless jokes in a public forum, that’s your right. However, if the hiring manager at the company of your dreams reads these things, it is also his or her right to decide you’re not right for the job.

Failing to Strike a Public/Private Balance

Image via Flickr by Chris Breikss
Follow the advice of Businessweek author Mr. Fertik and countless other reputation experts: draw a thick line between your private life and your public or professional life. If you need to, create social media profiles strictly for friends and family—and lock them down immediately. Then, create public profiles where you behave in an adult, professional manner, presenting yourself as a responsible person with excellent ethics. Showing yourself in a flawless public light may save your reputation, especially when you’re trying to get accepted to grad school or find a job.

Believing That What Happens in Vegas Stays There

Image via Flickr by hillary h
The biggest way most young adults ruin their reputations is by believing that no one will see the things that they post, or won’t care if they do. People do care. Your family cares, your professors care, and professionals in your future field care. Presenting the wrong image can cause you to get passed over for a job or a promotion. You can even get fired for breaking company policy by behaving inappropriately, offensively, or unethically. If it’s online, it can and likely will get discovered.
Fortunately there are many ways to keep this from happening, although it may take professional help. Have you ever lost an opportunity because of something you posted on the Internet?