A primary stress of modern times for those students vying for spots at top-tier colleges is designing “the high school plan”: “How many extracurriculars should I do? What kind of community service will distinguish me from other applicants? Will it look better to get an A in a regular-track course, or a B in an honors course?” Much time and energy is spent by preparatory schools determining when the best time to start counseling their students on college is, so that they can be competitive candidates, but also avoid being overwhelmed too early on by the pressures of performing for the sake of an application. A worried rising freshman in high school might easily ask herself the same question of Online Reputation Management: how early is “too early”? Should ORM be saved until junior year, when all the negative online information is swept off the web in a single purge? Should I get an ORM counselor in conjunction with my college counselor? Is the power of the internet over-hyped, or should I be more careful than I already am?
How can we help students create a cycle of online and real-world behaviors which reinforce each other?
If we begin to see online reputation management as a state of mind rather than a cleanup tactic, it will seem only natural to ask the question of how to apply “ORM” in an offline context. How can we work to establish a framework for living which reinforces positive reputation both on and off the computer, allowing us to make the most of our skills and reach our goals through what might be called “networking on steroids”?