Do Admissions Committees Really Look at Your Social Media?
How often have you heard someone use the phrase, “Google it”? I’d guess pretty frequently. Now imagine – what if the admissions committee googled you?
Now days, there is the paper application, the interview, and then, depending on the institution, the Internet search. We know you said you were a star athlete – but is there proof of that online? Have people been writing articles about you? Is there more information about that one activity you were involved in?
Before social media came along, no one thought to look up applicants online. Now, several interviewers do it, partly out of curiosity, and sometimes out of a desire to be thorough. These days, it would not be surprising if Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts pop up among your publications and athletic records. While on the surface that may not matter, it could still hurt your chances of getting into your dream schools if you’re not careful.
A 2013 New York Times article reviewing social media and college applications found that some universities indeed have rejected students on the basis of their social media posts. What makes medical school different? Nothing. In fact, some medical school deans state that students SHOULD assume that schools look up students. After all, there are usually medical students on those admissions committees, and they aren’t much older or any less tech savvy than you are
Social media itself isn’t necessarily going to hurt you – just be aware, and think about how you would perceive a post if you were on the admissions committee. Below are some high yield tips for how to avoid any social media based rejections.
1. Change your privacy settings.
Make sure that people cannot see your photos/tweets unless they are someone you know.
2. Have control over your content.
Change your settings so that you have to approve any comments, check-ins, or tags so that no one (but you) can muddy up your social media account.
3. Avoid posting content with very strong political/religious views.
While having strong personal beliefs is fine, you aren’t there when people from the admissions committee are looking through your Facebook to assure them that you are (1) open-minded and (2) not inflexible. You cannot control how someone interprets what you say, but you can control what you say in the first place.
4. Post with your goals in mind.
This may seem obvious, but don’t post photos of yourself where you are obviously intoxicated/at a crazy party. You’re applying for medical school, where “professionalism” is an important part of the curriculum. Therefore, ensure that your photos are, at the least, not unprofessional. (Another way to think about this – patients probably search their doctors.)
5. Ask yourself: Would I be comfortable to discuss this in my interview?
Use common sense – don’t post anything that you would be embarrassed to discuss in an interview. If an interviewer were to ask you about that family photo your mom tagged you in last week, you’d probably be comfortable talking about it. If an interviewer asked you about your tweet saying “omg school sux cant wait to be done, hate my teacher” that would probably be awkward.
6. Deactivate your accounts.
While this sounds extreme, it ensures that you don’t have to worry about photos, posts, or pretty much anything else. This is what I did when applying to both college and medical school. To be honest, it seemed easier than carefully policing my social media platforms.
Most people don’t have social media that needs careful curating. The likelihood is that if you have come far enough to apply to medical school, you have figured out that your social media presence can affect peoples’ impressions of you.
That being said, it is often better to be safe than sorry. And in reality, there is very little on your Facebook or Twitter that would tip an admission committee’s hand to accept you, but there is a lot that might make them decide that you would not be a good fit for their program. Don’t let a few Facebook posts or one errant tweet ruin years of hard work and a carefully crafted resume.
Do you have your own social media best practices? Share them in the comments below!
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