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Do colleges look at your TikTok account?

In recent years, TikTok has exploded in popularity among teenagers and young adults. The short-form video app has become a creative outlet for Gen Z to express themselves through dances, comedy sketches, and more. With over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok has certainly made its mark on youth culture.

This begs the question – do colleges look at applicants’ TikTok accounts during the admissions process? Many high schoolers have built large followings by posting fun videos that show off their personality. But could this digital footprint impact your chances of getting into your dream school?

The short answer

Technically, colleges can look up applicants on TikTok if they want to. However, most admissions officers do not proactively screen candidates’ TikTok accounts as part of the standard application review process.

TikTok is not an “official” platform that colleges regularly monitor like test scores, transcripts, essays, and recommendations. Social media like TikTok is considered more personal territory.

So in most cases, you do not need to worry about your silly dances or comedy skits being used against you. As long as your account does not contain concerning illegal or unethical content, TikTok is unlikely to make or break your admissions decision.

When colleges might check TikTok

While routine TikTok screening is not common practice, there are some scenarios where admissions officers might decide to peek at your profile:

If you link to your TikTok on your application

If you explicitly provide the handle to your TikTok account in your extracurriculars list, personal essay, or anywhere on your application, you are inviting colleges to check it out. So make sure the content aligns with the image you want to present as an applicant.

If they search your name

Admissions officers will likely Google your name at some point, as part of their standard background check on applicants. If you have a unique name and a public TikTok account, your videos could come up in the search results.

If another source flags questionable content

On rare occasions, a high school counselor, teacher, or another student may notify admissions officers about concerning posts on an applicant’s TikTok. This would prompt colleges to investigate the account more thoroughly.

If you become TikTok famous

If your account gains a huge following in the millions, a college may look you up out of curiosity about your influencer status. Having an insanely popular TikTok is unlikely to make up for an otherwise weak application, but colleges want to understand the full context of who you are.

When TikTok could hurt your chances

Most of the time, colleges will not blink an eye at silly TikTok antics. But there are certain scenarios where questionable content could jeopardize your admissions chances:

Illegal activity

Content showing illegal activities like underage drinking, drug use, vandalism, etc. could raise red flags about your character. Engaging in unlawful conduct demonstrates poor judgment and immaturity.

Hate speech

Offensive videos containing racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise prejudiced language are concerning and reflect poorly on your morals. Colleges aim to build inclusive communities.


Footage mocking or harassing classmates could make you seem cruel, immature, and hostile. Admissions officers might worry how you would treat others on campus.

Reckless behavior

Stunts that are dangerous or destructive, like jumping off roofs, could be disqualifying. Colleges want students who will be responsible on campus.

Lyrics or images glorifying violence

Media promoting violence does not align with colleges’ educational values. It raises questions about your character and mindset.

When TikTok could help your chances

On the flip side, certain TikTok content could potentially strengthen your application and reinforce positive attributes:

Academic passions

Videos showcasing your artistic talents, scientific experiments, coding projects, or other academic interests demonstrate intellectual curiosity.

Extracurricular talents

Clips highlighting special skills like sports, dance, singing, or instruments display well-rounded pursuits beyond academics.


Posts advocating for social causes exhibit leadership and community engagement. This fits with many colleges’ core values.

Humor and creativity

Funny, entertaining content conveys a playful personality. Comedic skills and creative thinking are assets.

Work ethic

Running a successful “TikTok business” by creating branded content shows initiative and entrepreneurship.

Tips for keeping your TikTok college-friendly

Here are some tips for ensuring your TikTok profile presents you in the best possible light as a college applicant:

– Keep it clean. Avoid profanity, illegal activities, nudity, or offensive content.
– Make it private. Limit who can view your content if necessary.
– Be discerning about likes. Don’t publicly like videos with concerning content.
– Remember context. A joke among friends could be misinterpreted without context.
– Showcase the real you. Share talents, interests and personality beyond manufactured content.
– Consider content variety. Demonstrate range beyond just dances, memes or lip-syncs.
– Monitor comments. Delete offensive or inappropriate comments from others.
– Manage your online image. Google yourself to understand your digital footprint.

The impact of TikTok on admissions

While TikTok is not formally part of college admissions at this time, social media does play an increasing role in how applicants present themselves. Some experts predict that TikTok and other platforms may become a more standard part of the process in the future.

But for now, many admissions officers still view social media like TikTok as an extension of students’ personal lives and separate from their academic pursuits. Applicants are primarily evaluated based on their grades, test scores, essays, recommendations and extracurricular resume.

There are also concerns about privacy and equity if TikTok accounts become fair game for admissions evaluations. Not all students use social media, and TikTok may provide an inaccurate window into someone’s true interests, abilities and character compared to other application materials.

Advice from admissions officers

Many colleges have offered advice about social media and the admissions process. Here is guidance from admissions representatives at several top schools:

School Quote from Admissions Officer
MIT “We do not look at any applicants’ social media as part of the application process.”
Yale “What students choose to post on social media does not play a role in Yale’s admissions decisions.”
Stanford “We want to emphasize that the Stanford admission review does not include online research about applicants.”
Princeton “Princeton does not view applicants’ social media accounts or seek out this information.”

The consensus is that mainstream social media like TikTok is not directly factored into admissions decisions at most elite colleges currently. But experts recommend applicants still exercise sound judgment online.

Final verdict

In summary, most colleges are not actively monitoring TikTok or rejecting applicants based on their videos alone. TikTok is considered more of a personal creative outlet separate from your academic record.

That said, admissions officers can view any public content if they wish. So it is smart to avoid videos involving illegal activities, hate speech, bullying or other concerning conduct that could call your judgment into question.

With the right privacy settings and content considerations, your TikTok account likely will not make or break your college admissions chances. But always portray your best self online, as colleges want to admit mature, upstanding students who will positively contribute to campus life.


TikTok has become ingrained in youth culture and self-expression. While colleges are not formally screening applicants’ accounts, students should still be mindful that any public social media content could potentially be reviewed by admissions officers.

Aim to present a version of yourself aligned with the academic and personal qualities that colleges seek in strong candidates. But there is likely no need to panic about admissions chances being torpedoed by dancing videos alone. With proper privacy controls and avoiding clearly inappropriate content, TikTok can remain an outlet for teenage fun outside formal college evaluations.