Blogging seems like one of the coolest things on the planet. You can be whoever you want to be, share whatever you want to share, and meet tons of people who can relate to you. A blog is creative outlet for gathering what most everyone wants—attention and affirmation—but without physically putting yourself in front of a crowd.

For the most part, blogging is a positive thing, even if you don’t always know the people who read what you write. However, there can be multiple downsides, including messing up your college prep efforts, so make sure you know who or what you might be dealing with when you decide to share yourself with the world.

As you prepare to go to college, the anonymity of a crowd can be a positive thing

The audience you’re speaking to in your blog varies. The audience that is listening to you varies too. If you’re blogging on a site like Facebook, your exposure is limited (mostly) to people who are affiliated with your school. While this might limit your contact with strangers, it doesn’t limit your vulnerability to consequences. This is especially true if you’re not careful about what you put out there.

With more than 50 percent of millions of blogs being written by teens between 13 and 19, and roughly eight out of ten teens reading them, your arch enemy may find just the ammo he or she needs to make your life at school as miserable as possible. On the bright side, you might also find that the shy guy or girl that sits across the room from you shares your interests in classical music and fine art.

Parents may find out about more than your college plan

You don’t have to use Facebook to blog, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t know who you are if you blog on another site. As some teens have already found out, you might discover that Mom and Dad know all about popular blog sites —and read them too! If you’re not careful, they may soon know more about you and your extracurricular activities than you ever wanted them to.

Posting questionable pics of over-the-top antics or sharing intimate thoughts may not be the smartest thing you could do, especially if you’re using your real name. Don’t assume you won’t be found out!

Students aren’t the only ones who go to college

Of course, the big baddies of the Internet are the predators, and they are particularly keen on scoping out teen blogs and chat rooms. You might like to think that you’re immune because there are millions of people online, but if it weren’t a problem, there wouldn’t be an FBI Special Task Force devoted solely to finding these people.

If you’re going to post pictures or share your most personal thoughts, then do so anonymously. Never, ever give out your name, age, or contact information unless you know for sure who you’re talking to…and even then, do so with caution. This applies even after you get into college.

Especially important for those in the middle of college prep

Perhaps you already know all this. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if you do. But did you also know that some employers and colleges have started checking out blogs? Employers are most likely looking for references to their company. However, college admissions officers may actually be looking for your name.

So you want to go to college and you are wondering why that’s a big deal in your college planning? Current and prospective students, even those with a solid college plan, have found themselves on the outside looking in due to the content of their blogs. Scholarships have been lost, athletes have been expelled, and fraternities have been turned upside down…all because of a lack of electronic discretion. In the most extreme cases, admission offers have been rescinded when admission officers found details online that weren’t to their liking.

If “Get into college” is on your to-do list, you might consider blogging only about your GPA, extensive college planning, scholarship offers, and charitable work! Seriously, though, consider with each post what you would want the College Admissions Office at your top-ranked school to know about you.

If you want to get into college, know what they say about assume

Are you the type to talk or write about everything under the sun? Perhaps not, but you should still give careful thought to your posts before you put them up because, as we said, you don’t know who’s in the crowd! Look at it this way—if you wouldn’t say it in public or share it with a stranger, then don’t put it online.

And as you do your college prep, never assume that it can’t happen to you!