Recently, we showed you how to clean up your Google search results for graduate schools. Now that your Google search results make you look like the most erudite person on the planet, or at least, in your friend group, we’re going to focus on another aspect of social media. Today, we’re going to turn the tables and show you how to use social media to help in your graduate school search and application process.
Nearly every university has at least one Facebook page relating to their departments or graduate admissions. Make sure to “like” and follow these pages, as they may provide the most reliable and up-to-date information on admissions. They can also link you to other application resources at the school that could assist you in your applications. Plus, those pages typically always remind followers when applications deadlines are approaching and what materials are needed.
Is the dean of one of your prospective schools on Twitter? What about a professor who you’re really interested in working with? Don’t be afraid to follow these people to get to learn more about their work and potentially even establish a dialogue before you apply. Professors and deans frequently tweet about research they’re doing, classes they’re offering, or papers or conferences they’re working on. Being familiar with a professor or graduate dean’s research interests can help you cater to them in your admissions essay or during an interview.
Use Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with current students and alumni. Most current graduate students love an excuse to take a break from their studies and talk to a prospective student, and proud alumni love to brag and reminisce about their alma mater. Current students can give you a sense of student life at the graduate school, as well as provide valuable insights into the teaching styles of certain professors or the availability of research opportunities. Alumni can let you know what they did with their degree, so you have a better idea of how you would apply your degree after graduate school. Even if you don’t end up going to that school, the alumni, students and professors you contact can still be useful connections later down the line.
Finally, make sure to Google professors you think you may be interested in working with. Google Scholar is a great tool for finding some of a professor’s recent publications. You may also find other useful information about projects they’ve participated in the university, or stumble across a blog that gives you a hint as to their personality outside the classroom. All this information can help you decide whether or not you may be interested in working with a particular professor.
Don’t forget to work all this information into your personal statement! Use your conversations with alumni about their career paths to provide specific information about what you hope to do with your degree after graduation. The more precise you can be, the more attractive your application will be to admissions officers! Likewise, use the information you’ve learned about professors you would like to work with to state specific information about why their research is of interest to you.
Remember, though, that while social media can be a valuable resource for learning some information about a graduate school, program, or particular professor there is still no replacement for going there and seeing it yourself. Social media is a great way to lay the foundation for new relationships, but make sure to solidify them with some in-person (or at the very least phone) interaction.