Social Media and the “Grandma Test”

As application season gears up, applicants often wonder what they can do to stand out in the crowd of aspiring students.  In most circumstances, applicants focus on personal statements, résumés, letters of recommendation and other such materials as places they ought to “stand out.”  However, in the age of the internet, applicants often overlook a place where they may stand out in a negative way: social media.

Do law school admissions professionals really use social media to research applicants? The short answer is yes. Some admissions deans will see something interesting on your resume and search for more information. Many times a law school that is considering offering an applicant a large scholarship will do a little due diligence by looking that person up online. If a law school looked you up, would they see something that might make them question your judgment and professionalism? Some professors will even do a quick search before writing a letter of recommendation.

Social media can be a medium through which applicants illustrate their interest in a school, highlight their extracurricular involvement, or simply comment on their daily life.  More often than not, however, social media accounts can harm an applicant’s prospects more than help.  An easy way of discerning what should be on your social media accounts is the “Grandma Test.”

Ask yourself: would I want my Grandma to see this [post/photo/tweet]?  You may be thinking – my Grandma doesn’t use social media so I am all set.  Not so fast.  Admissions offices, prospective employers and many other gatekeepers of the “real world” do use social media.  So, imagine a conservative person in your life that you want to impress, and work through your years of tweets, posts, uploads, etc. deleting anything that falls on the wrong side of professionalism.  Picture of you drinking?  You are not exhibiting your social skills – delete it.  Post or tweet expressing your displeasure with an undergrad professor?  You are not simply exhibiting your constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech – delete it.  Continue this process until all of your profiles pass the test.

Social media faux pas can result in apologies from large businesses or individuals losing their jobs.  Do not let your social media accounts hold you back from advancing your career prospects.  Do not rely on strict privacy settings to protect you because it does not always work out that way.   A quick tip for all those who plan on applying to law school: clean up your social media and make sure it passes the “Grandma Test.”