MBA News: Digital Footprint Plays Increased Role in Admissions Decisions

By now, the imperative of safeguarding unflattering Facebook photos from potential employers’ prying eyes has been well established. An article titled “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets” in last week’s New York Times goes further by suggesting that the pitfalls of making personal information visible online may increasingly affect admissions decisions. According to a study conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, “online scrutiny of college hopefuls is growing.” Thirty-one percent of the undergraduate admissions officers surveyed by Kaplan this year reported that they regularly visit applicants’ Facebook profiles and other social media pages when assessing candidacy—an increase of 5% over last year.

A few injudicious Tweets may not necessarily result in disqualification. But as a Kaplan representative notes, “Students’ social media and digital footprint can sometimes play a role in the admissions process. It’s something that is becoming more ubiquitous and less looked down upon.” Highly selective programs, in particular, may have the luxury of screening out candidates that they perceive would fit poorly with the school’s community.

Although the study focused strictly on undergraduate admissions, it follows that, with many business schools champing at the bit to leverage the benefits of new technology, such social media etiquette extends to MBA admissions as well. Before applying, you may want to limit the content available to interviewers and admissions officers, ensuring that unsavory college photos are not part of the first impression you make.

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