Last week, Kaplan Test Prep released data from their survey of over 150 business schools across the U.S. on the role of social media in the admissions process. Of the admissions officers surveyed:
- 35 percent say they have visited applicants’ social media profiles to learn more about them, up 13 percentage points from 2011
- 33 percent of those admissions officers who’ve visited applicants’ social media profiles say that they do so “often”
- Social media has helped and harmed applicants’ admission prospects in almost equal proportions (48 percent and 50 percent respectively)
See the full press release, including a video summary of the findings here: http://press.kaptest.com/press-releases/kaplan-test-prep-survey-growing-number-business-schools-turn-social-media-help-make-admissions-decisions
Admissions officers who are reviewing students’ social media pages are looking to get to know the student and their background more fully. Prospective students can take advantage of this by ensuring that their social media profiles are up to date and supportive of the personal brand they’ve put forth in their applications. As such, we recommend that anyone applying to a graduate program, or an internship or residency, take at the least a cursory social media scan. Below, we have provided guidelines for doing so.
The Basics: If nothing else, confirm the following.
- Ensure that your social media privacy settings reflect your preferences, but keep in mind that even private information can leak or be distributed more widely.
- Review your pictures. Are there any that present you in a manner that would be embarrassing for an admissions officer to see? Be sure to go back and review even your oldest pictures. Remove those that you deem inappropriate, borderline, or simply not reflective of you.
- Ensure that your LinkedIn resume is up to date, grammatically correct, and in line with what you’ve submitted to the admissions committees. Similarly, confirm that your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are grammatically correct.
- Confirm that none of your content could even potentially be considered racist, sexist, or containing prejudicial language. You should consistently represent yourself as someone who will add to a diverse intellectual environment. Make it clear to your friends that you should not be tagged or otherwise included in groups that don’t share this spirit.
- Review your profiles often. Ensure that others are aware that you don’t want to be tagged in inappropriate pictures, videos, or comments.
The Upgrade: Use social media to enhance your application.
- Consider if your pictures are showcasing your hobbies and interests beyond, but including, time spent with friends. If not, add pictures that show a broader array of “you”. This might include shots from travel, volunteer work, cultural activities, time with pets, or engaging in other hobbies that show off aspects of your personality that will bring your essays and interviews to life.
- Ask co-workers from various points in your career to post recommendations on your LinkedIn account.
- Ensure that your goals are consistent between your application and social media posts. Don’t post different career goals than those that appear in your application, or actively discuss pursuing full-time careers that don’t require the graduate program to which you are applying.
- Keep your accounts up to date. Post about your current activities and events including conferences, speeches, or panels and include your reactions to the events. Share news or research articles on areas that you’re interested in. Take this opportunity to show off your writing and critical thinking skills or link to a blog containing your writing.
- Don’t hide those things which make you different. Admissions officers want a diverse graduate population, and social media is the perfect way to show off qualities and interests that set you apart from the crowd, as well as demonstrate how you currently contribute to the diversity of your community.
While, social media should continue to be a personalized and fun outlet for you, don’t forget to consider that it may also inform admissions committees or future employers about who you are, and ultimately impact their final decision.