In today’s world, most of us have social media accounts to stay in contact with friends, family, and other people and organizations we love. We don’t even have to know a person to appreciate the content they share online. You may have even found this blog post by scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. But is social media something that will help or harm you when applying to law school? Here are some things to consider when weighing the pros and cons of social media and law school applications.
Over the past ten years or so, law school applicants have been struck with a new dilemma that applicants of the past didn’t have to face. This is the dilemma of deciding how to handle their online presence. With simple searches on Google or individual social media platforms, admissions committees now have access to information about you that goes far beyond what you include in your standard application. Some people may see this as a positive, while others consider it a negative.
Even if you feel you have nothing to hide, it’s important to weigh the decision of how to present yourself online before your applications enter the hands of law school admissions committee members. A basic search through a law school forum may tell you there’s no solid consensus for whether to delete your social media accounts or keep them, whether to make them public or private, or whether to strategically post online to portray yourself in a positive light.
While I’m not going to give you a definitive answer to whether you must delete or keep your account, I am going to provide you with some tools to help you make a wise decision for yourself. The fact is law schools are looking at social media profiles to get a clearer picture of an applicant.
A Kaplan Test Prep survey found that 56% of law school admissions officers have looked at applicants’ social media profiles. They’ve done this to learn more about the applicant. For some applicants, this pays off. The same study states: “29 percent of law school admissions say that what they found has helped applicants’ admissions chances.”
Here are some things to consider when determining how to handle social media and law school applications.
4 Things to Think About Regarding Social Media and Law School Applications
1. What kind of content do you share?
This is the time to go through your social media accounts and think about what you share online. This should not only be limited to what you post on your profile. What kind of comments do you make in groups and on posts of others? Do you ever let your words become overly harsh? Have you ever posted something jokingly that can be taken as bad taste (hateful, too political, racist, etc.)? Are your images full of partying or do they show you in positive settings (traveling, volunteering, etc.)?
Even if you keep things relatively clean on social media, think about what you’ve liked or what you’ve commented on, even if it was in a private group setting. These are things that can get people into trouble.
Also keep in mind that it’s important to keep overly political content out of your law school application. So if your Facebook profile specifically expresses your political beliefs in a strong way, it might be a good idea to rethink this.
As you begin to evaluate your social media use, ask a friend or family member for their opinions to make sure you have some trusted advice. If they take an objective look at your social media profiles, they may notice things you overlook.
2. What are your current privacy settings?
Next, think about privacy settings. Are all your posts set to private? Are the public posts, including your profile picture, portraying you in a good light? Even if you think you have everything set to private, double check this. Facebook changes its terms of service often, so you want to be sure things are set in the way you want them to be. This post contains information to help you make your Facebook profile more secure.
3. Do you use your own name and contact information on social media?
There are some people out there who have been extremely careful about their online presence from day one. They’ve never used their last name online. If this is you, you may not have to worry as much about social media and your law school application. But be sure to check whether people can search for you using your email address! This is an overlooked area that many forget.
You can always create a new email address specifically for your law school applications if you want to keep a clear distinction between your personal and professional life. This is also a good idea if your email address looks like it’s from middle or high school.
4. Would it be possible to delete or deactivate your accounts?
Some applicants find it easier to just delete their social media accounts. They may start a new account without their full name and with minimal photos or posts so they can maintain contact with select individuals. For some, this is actually a relief. It takes less time than trying to clean up an existing account. Plus, I can only imagine it might be a little bit freeing to not be tied to social media, especially when studying for the LSAT and doing the hard work of preparing your law school application.
If it is possible to delete or deactivate your social media accounts, this could save you some extra stress. In the past, I’ve heard murmurings about how not having social media could make law schools or potential employers suspicious if they can’t find you online. Honestly, though, I don’t think that’s anything to worry about. You control the message via your application. Submit a solid application and relax.
At the end of the day, the decision of how to handle social media and law school applications is up to you. Think about the ideas listed above and make the choice that fits your specific situation. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Just seek to present yourself in an authentic and positive light. You’ve got this!
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