Social media presence more critical than ever for b-school applicants

Back in June 2010, when The MBA Exchange announced the first-ever social media audit for MBA applicants, there were some cynics who said, “B-schools don’t really check that stuff, do they?”

Well, in fact, they do!

Kaplan Test Prep’s recently published 2011 survey of business school admissions officers discovered the following:

• 27% of MBA admissions officers have Googled an applicant to learn more about him or her; 22% said they have visited an applicant’s Facebook or other social networking page for the same purpose.

• 14% of admissions officers who did online research on applicants found something that negatively impacted the application.

This survey, conducted in summer 2011, includes responses from 265 MBA programs, including 16 of the top 25 schools.

Online “vetting” of applicants is a trend that is certain to grow. For instance, a Kaplan survey of undergraduate admissions officers found that a staggering 80% consider social media presence when recruiting students. Surely, the MBA counterparts of those undergrad ad comms will make greater use of social media in choosing who gets the nod among equally qualified applicants.

A former Harvard interviewer says it well in her February 2011 blog post: “Today, your public image is more than who you are in person. It also includes who you are online. It’s the new reality, and there’s nothing revolutionary or scary about it – but it is important to learn to live with it and manage accordingly.”

So, how would MBA admissions officers, interviewers, alumni, and students perceive you based on your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter presence? And, remember, it’s not just what you post, but also what has been posted about you — or about others with the same name — that could put your MBA admission in jeopardy. What are some examples of near-catastrophes we’ve discovered and helped resolve so far?

• An applicant who unfortunately shares the same first and last name as a convicted murderer.

• An applicant who featured photos on Flickr of himself proudly posing in front of a “shoppe” in Amsterdam’s infamous red-light district.

• An applicant who boasted on Facebook of his six-figure winnings from online poker – adding with a “smiley-face” emoticon that he had not yet declared this on his income tax return.

• An applicant who generated a series of Tweets advocating legalization of street drugs.

• An applicant who had Tweeted inappropriate comments about Haitian earthquake victims.

• An applicant whose blog featured a music playlist that included several obscene titles.

• An applicant whose comments in a public forum for MBA applicants openly disparaged two of the b-schools to which he was planning to apply.

As someone eagerly seeking admission to a highly selective business school, could you benefit from a professional audit of your social media presence? The MBA Exchange is proud to be the first admissions consulting firm to offer a specialized, confidential service for MBA applicants. Experienced, online research specialists discover what’s written, where it appears, and how you can mitigate it. They can even suggest opportunities to improve your online presence and thus increase your chances for admission. It can take time — sometimes even months — to transform an online profile from harmful to beneficial. Why not start today? We believe so strongly in the value of our social media audit that we’ve made it a core component of our Comprehensive Admissions Consultation.

For details on this exclusive service for MBA applicants, visit our website.