Should you be worried about what is on Facebook while you apply to graduate school? Are the admissions committees going to check?
From time to time they do check online information about applicants. They don’t have time to do this for everyone, but if there is a reason they want to see more information then Google is the first resource.
If you are worried at all about your Facebook content, then tighten your privacy settings to keep information as far out of the public (and search engine) view as possible. This may go against your style, but it will help prevent confusion and potential impact on your applications. That will help remove social information from search results, but what about putting in positive information that supports your application?
LinkedIn is great for that. Create or improve your LinkedIn profile in a way that supports your career goals and graduate school applications. Highlight experiences that the adcoms will likely find important. Get a couple new LinkedIn recommendations (not from the same reference providers you used already). Join groups that show your focus on the grad school subject and stop displaying logos for groups that detract from that focus.
Once your profile is updated and consistent with the “you” portrayed in the applications, loosen your LinkedIn privacy settings for the rest of the application season. This means your professional profile will rise in search results and effectively switches social signals for professional signals. It gives you one more chance to provide evidence of your professional intent that supports the application.
The bottom line is that you cannot control what is found online unless you control what is put online. Restricting Facebook activity and increasing LinkedIn activity gives you some influence over what an admissions committee sees and a chance to further emphasize information in the applications.
Indeed LinkedIn can be a tremendous tool for graduate school applicants and many of the principles outlined in my earlier post “10 Ways to use LinkedIn to Boost your MBA Applications” also apply to graduate school applicants.