Every student preparing to apply for business school has a checklist that includes a good GMAT study guide, emails to past employers for letters of recommendation, and some admissions brochures. But how does that Facebook page look?
Last fall, Kaplan Test Prep unveiled its findings on how admissions offices at top U.S. graduate schools view social media. Twenty-seven percent of the 265 business schools admissions officers surveyed said they have “Googled” an applicant and 22% said they have visited an applicant’s Facebook page. What they found mattered – 14% of business school admissions officers found something online that negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances.
Students don’t have to be victims to their Facebook wall posts or tweets. Students can increase the privacy settings on both Facebook and Twitter accounts. Facebook’s default settings allow anyone to find your profile online. Users can disable this so that search engines won’t link to their profile. To do this, go to “Account – Privacy Settings – Apps and Websites – Public Search (Edit Settings)” and uncheck “Enable Public Search.” Or, if to limit parts of the profile, go to “Edit Profile” and select the privacy level (Public, Friends, Only Me, Custom) for each profile data point using the dropdown boxes to the right.
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In this same vein, check “tagging” settings. Don’t allow your friends and family to “tag” you in photos without your approval. Embarrassed by a couple late night wall posts? Delete them. A recently added privacy setting, “Limit The Audience for Past Posts” will change content that may previously have been publicly posted to be only viewable by friends in your network.
The same advice can be applied to Twitter. By default, anybody can view tweets and follow anyone. To protect privacy and tweets, go to “Settings – Accounts,” and then check “Protect my tweets.” This gives students the control to give permission to new followers. Or, if Twitter is a venting ground, students can create a different name for themselves. By clicking on “Settings” on the drop down menu at the top right corner of the profile page (click on the upside-down triangle), users can go to the “Accounts” tab and change the first listing, which is “Name.”
The best advice is for prospective students to be smart and think about everything posted online before they do it. The Internet has a long memory.
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTwets