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Do's and Don'ts of Social Media for Business School Applicants

Posted July 19, 2017 by Hannah DeBevoise - Coordinator, Social Media - AACSB International

Social media has long expanded beyond its origins as a simple tool for interaction between friends. Today, if you have an active and open social presence, you essentially have a personal summary available to the public for their assessment.

While social media still lives as a platform for entertainment, conversation, and news and media consumption, it can also be beneficial when beginning the application process for business school, whether you’re seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree.

According to a recent survey by Kaplan, 35 percent of college admissions officers say they use social media to learn more about applicants. Of those officers, nearly half say that what they find has a positive impact on their evaluation of the students. Conversely, 42 percent say that what they see has a negative impact.

The simple fact is that admissions officers are exploring potential students online. If you’re considering going back to school for your MBA or beginning the application process for business school, review these do’s and don’ts of social media to ensure your online presence is the best it can be when you submit your application.

Do be active on social media! Often students, job seekers, and potential applicants will spend unnecessary time crafting false names on their social accounts to make it more difficult to be found or hide from admissions officers or potential employers. Having an upfront presence on social platforms is a great way to highlight your hobbies, volunteer activities, and other personal interests that may show value to an admissions officer.

Don't post inappropriate content. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to remember that schools do consider the type of student they want representing their institution. Once you are accepted into a university, you become an unofficial brand ambassador for that school. Contributing to your school’s brand by establishing your own positive brand can make you a valuable addition to the institution. Avoid photos, videos, and statuses that link you to anything that might clash with a university’s code of conduct or values. In other words, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see!

Do consider privacy settings. Social networks give users a myriad of options to protect themselves online. If you are concerned with the amount of information available to the public, spend some time exploring your privacy options and apply those that feel safest to you. Allowing a barrier between you and the outside world can show that you are still an active, engaged individual without sharing overly personal content.

Contemplate using the Timeline and Tagging settings on Facebook. Facebook allows you to set the option to review photos that others tag you in before posting to your own timeline. This review process will let you block any photos that friends took of you that you wouldn’t want admissions officers to see. While it’s easy to control your own content, these settings allow you to put additional restrictions on content posted by your friends and family that involves you, as well.

Don't forget to be well-rounded. Universities want students who can show more than one-dimension in their classrooms. While management and leadership skills are important when applying for an MBA, displaying interest and skill in other areas on social media displays that you have knowledge in many subjects, which is an added value to admissions officers. Business spans all disciplines, so having a passion for art or medicine and showing that in your profile can help you in the application process.

Do interact with universities and colleges you’re interested in attending! Follow, like, and pay attention to accounts of schools you’re applying to. A retweet or share of a Facebook post can show interest and enthusiasm for an institution’s activities. Engagement with a university’s social accounts can also be a great way to display your compatibility with the school and its culture. Show admissions officers that you’re the type of student they want to recruit!

Social networks are also a quick and timely way to ask questions and create dialogue with institutions. Because social media is a real-time and public platform, sending a message or posting on a university’s page may result in a faster answer. You’re also building a relationship with the school and its employees.

Don't delete all evidence of yourself from the internet. Fear of certain posts that college admissions officers might condemn if encountering your social presence shouldn’t hinder you from having a presence at all. Today, it’s uncommon to have zero online existence. Having a social profile can show universities that your social life is not only healthy but a positive contribution to their student body. Admissions officers aren’t always seeking students out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to find negative content. They’re also using these tools to see how you might add value to their institution beyond your academic capabilities.

Do see what’s already out there. Google yourself! If you can see it show up on a Google search, so can an admissions officer. Surveying your online landscape before the application process can give you an advantage in creating the social presence you want to display. Once you know what is out there, you can move forward and shape your online personality by removing content you don’t want presented and creating more positive content that shows value to universities. Post more blog articles on your travels, share more photos of volunteer work, or interact and add commentary to credible business channels.

The overall message? Social media is an excellent tool to enhance your business school application. It gives depth to you as an individual and allows admissions officers to visualize you as a member of their student body. When cautiously curated, your social profiles can be an asset rather than a liability.