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The incoming freshman Facebook group. It’s a place to get hyped, spread some school love, and meet your potential future classmates.

It also can be great for helping to pick out a college.

However, before we start, there is something you should know… everyone is trying to impress you on the Facebook group.

They’re going to bring up the coolest bands they occasionally listen to, say that Breaking Bad is their favorite show of all time (even though they’ve been binge watching House Hunters), only name drop classic books even though they’d rather read Sarah Dessen than JD Salinger.

So how can you see through the façade of cool to figure out which mass of anonymous potential classmates you want to join?

1. Look for the Trends

There will be hundreds of “Let me introduce myself” posts, and while you can’t judge a school by one potential classmate, you can definitely glom the general personality of the students by reading a bunch.

Let’s say you’re sporty–you’ll want to see how many people are talking about IM teams and club sports. Is the campus friendly and open to sports? Are people talking all about the basketball team?

Or what if you’re extremely introverted and are really more into hanging out and watching a movie than going to ragers? Well, see if that seems to be the vibe. Of course people are going to act like they’re looking to go out four days a week, but see how socially acceptable it is in the group to own up to your homebody identity.

Are the people in the group all bros? Nerds? Artsy? Is it an eclectic mix? Real life isn’t the breakfast club with everyone in neat categories, but people tend to thrive in an environment that has people who are similar to them.

2. Join the Conversation

A big part of the group is people simply asking, “Who’s into _____?” While you’re not going to join every club or every conversation, it doesn’t hurt to join in on threads about the things you might be joining. It’ll give you a good measure of the types of people who are interested in the same things as you. Do you like all of the pre-frosh who are going to be on Newspaper? Or do they rub you the wrong way? It’s hard to gauge personalities completely from Facebook, but if every comment made about the school newspaper has you rolling your eyes, maybe it won’t be the best fit.

3. Scope Out Information

Some of these people will probably be more knowledgeable about the school than you are, which is awesome. The Early Decision kids have been obsessing about this potential school for months and they’ll know everything.

So you’ve looked at the theatre department’s page, but people on Facebook will have the skinny on all of the student groups because they’ve been doing their research.

If you want to be pre-med, they’ll be talking about the killer classes you’ll be in together freshman year. This helps to envision the year you’ll be in for as a freshman.

4. Get Hyped

Nobody is more excited about a school than the pre-frosh on Facebook. They’ll be violently hating on the rival. They’ll be showing off all of their newly acquired school swag. They’ll be talking about every cool tradition they can’t wait to be a part of and every fun event they’ll want to participate in. Every great thing about the school will be prominently on display. So use it to get hyped.

Here’s the thing…if you can’t get hyped about a school from the nuts obsessing over it on Facebook, there’s probably a reason. Maybe you have a mental block, maybe it’s not the school for you, and maybe it’s something else entirely. But if hundreds of your potential future classmates can’t get you excited, think long and hard about the school.

Facebook groups are a sneak preview at your future classmates, so use the information at your disposal and make a more-informed decision.

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the author

Jillian is better known by her pseudonym “CollegeApp Chick", which is half college application blog and half small private college advising business. She’s currently studying Psychology and Religious Studies at a small public school south of the Mason Dixon line. When not advising, studying, or blogging Jillian is an active member of the Shakespeare theatre club, sandbox improv, women’s chorus, and is an officer in a social sorority. She likes to talk, a lot. Most importantly, Jillian wears dresses more than 250 days a year. For more of Jillian’s tips, find her at her website or her Tumblr.

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