Is it true that medical school admissions committees check social media accounts when reviewing applicant files?
In this day and age, asking if admissions committees check social media is just…well, naive. Of course they do! Or at least they can…
Imagine you’re on a medical school admissions committee and you’re about to turn over a coveted seat to an applicant you’ve only met once or twice in interviews, and know only superficially. You can learn much, much more by peering into that applicant’s social media accounts, and why not? So how can social media affect your application to medical school?
The med school application process for med school admissions will often include a social media medical school scan. Especially when there are med school students on a medical school admissions committee, who tend to be much more tech-savvy than their elders, they are much more likely than not to examine you from every possible angle. And that includes the admissions committee examining your social media identity(ies).
The truth is, some adcoms do go searching, and some don’t. But you don’t want your tasteless, illegal, immature posts defining you in this important moment of your life. So your medical school application checklist should include cleaning up your social media profile.
Get a new email account
For starters, you should open a new email account to use with your med school applications, with a serious sound to it. Such as your first and last name followed by the email domain (@gmail.com). Keep it simple. Don’t connect it to any of your social media accounts. Don’t use it for anything except communicating with med schools during the application process.
Set your accounts to “private”
Whether it’s Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, leaving your settings open will likely create some embarrassing moments, unless all you do is save recipes and offer birthday wishes. Very few feeds are that generic. Imagine your most immature and/or extreme post going straight into the inbox of an adcom member. Not a pretty picture for many of us, and not something you want to experience! Your social media medical school dreams may go up in smoke!
Curtail your “friendships”
You’ll want to consider who your friends are and how they present themselves to the social media world if your account is accessible. Even if your posts are as clean the driven snow, your friendships can create question marks when the admissions committees check social media posts you’ve made over the years, especially if you are connected to bizarre or shady characters. For the forseeable future, you may want to unfriend those whose personas could bring you down. The old saying that “we are known by the friends we keep” is true here.
Delete, delete, delete
Fortunately, there is a delete key on most social media platforms. If you’ve got some crazy/smarmy/tacky/illegal things hanging out there, delete them today. Do not delay. Medical school admission committees investigate social media, period!
Keep future posts, photos g-rated
You may think the costume party with everyone literally blitzed was funny and shows your creative side. Not so if admissions committees check social media…. There are lots of interpretations an interviewer/adcom committee member may make based on things you post. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt by keeping everything you post something of which even Mom would approve!
Google your name…and wait!
You may be surprised at what comes up when you Google your name. It could be painful, but it’s something the admissions committee will do, so you’ll want to do it first. Your search could produce old posts, articles about you in the newspaper, arrest records, even letters to the editor you’ve published on online media outlets. If any of them are embarrassing or present you in a less than favorable light, you may be able to contact the outlet and request they remove the offending material. If that’s impossible to do, then get ready to explain whatever it is you find, to whoever asks about it.
Think about closing questionable accounts
If you’re not sure about your settings currently or in the recent past, and let’s say you have had some “whopper” posts, you may want to close your social media accounts down. It doesn’t have to be forever, but will give you some peace of mind while the admissions committees check social media while doing their duty. Don’t let your social media jeopardize your medical school admission, based on a needless post, or two or ten!
The point here is, you’re applying for the most important “job” of your life. You’ve prepared copiously for this moment. Don’t ruin it with stupid or pointless, not to mention offensive posts on social media. IF admissions committees use social media to check on applicants (and we know that some do!), and you have taken precautions, you can breathe easy.
Here are a few other tips to help you through the applications process:
—Is a good science GPA more important than my cumulative GPA?
—Should I resubmit the same LORs the second time around?
—How do I write a personal statement for my application?
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