Getting into business school used to mean performing well as an undergrad, passing standardized tests, writing a killer essay and nailing the interview.
As if that weren’t enough, now business school candidates have another thing to worry about when making their applications: social media. With the explosive growth of social media, admissions committees are looking to sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as a source of information about prospective candidates.
By Stacy Charles
In fact, a Kaplan Test Prep survey found 27 percent of all business school admissions officers viewed the social media profiles of applicants and nearly 35 percent also performed Google searches on hopeful students. And those numbers are expected to grow, especially given many business schools are overhauling the way the application process works. Many admissions officers believe social media is not only an ideal way to confirm that the information and persona you present on your application is accurate, but also a place to look for clues as to whether you would make a valuable addition.
What this means is that when you’re applying to business school, before you even think about submitting your application, you need a strong handle on your social media image.
Social Media Makeover
By now, the notion of your Facebook profile as being a private place only your closest friends can see is almost laughable. While you can certainly set your profile to “private” and limit what people you haven’t connected with can see, there are still ways for admissions reps to find information you may not want them to see.
Before you submit your application, give yourself a social media makeover. Start by removing tags on photos and posts that do not show you in the best light. Delete your photos and posts that don’t align with the image of an intellectually curious and professional individual you’re trying to cultivate. Funny E-cards with profanity-laden captions may capture your dismay over the behavior of your friends or dread of returning to work on Monday morning, but they may not fit the image you’re trying to convey.
One area many people overlook when overhauling their social media identities is their “likes.” Chances are that by now you’ve been on social media for a few years and have racked up a long list of likes for everything from your favorite bands to random causes. Clean up your like list, keeping only what isn’t offensive or damaging to the image you’re presenting. In other words, it’s fine to like the page for your favorite sports team, but unlike the page created to trash a rival team.
While you are busy managing your likes, find the Facebook pages of the programs you are applying to and like them. Also like a few related resources, such as industry groups or publications. Not only will admissions reps look favorably on your preferences, you’ll learn something new through the posts and discussions on those pages.
Tweet Your Essay?
If there is one aspect of the Business School admissions process that many applicants dread, it’s the essay. Writing 1,000 words on a designated topic is often a challenge for many students — and a challenge for the admissions representatives who have to read the essays.
For that reason, some admissions departments have experimented with “tweet essays,” in which candidates explain why they should be admitted in 140 characters or less. Others have used other forms of social media, such as short presentations on SlideShare, to get a better view of the candidate and their personality. Such requirements serve several purposes, not only helping admissions teams avoid reading the same stale essays over and over again, but also demonstrating that applicants have a solid grasp of social media and technology.
Taken together, the conclusion is clear: Business school applicants need to use social media, and use it well, to meet their goals of attending B-school. You don’t have to hide your personality — you aren’t a robot — but pay attention to the image you’re presenting. Be sure your online profiles and behavior match the vibrant, intelligent and professional person you are.
About the Author: Stacy Charles earned her MBA four years ago and now works as a consultant helping potential students create application packets to wow admissions teams. She also helps them find the right programs to meet their goals. If you’re considering business school, click here for online MBA degree information.
Image via Flickr
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