We are all aware that medical school is very competitive to get into. Regarding similar students, admission committee officers are looking for differentiating factors.
That being said, do med schools check your social media accounts and use that information as part of their decision process? And if so, how often are they checking?
Also, what do you want to avoid putting on your Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, or Instagram?
These are common questions from students like you and we are here to answer them!
Do Medical Schools Actually Look You Up On Social Media?
The point I want to make in this article is not whether or not med schools look you up on social media but rather that they CAN look up your social media.
This study based on medical school interviews in 2009 states that 9% of admission officers routinely look through applicants’ social media accounts. Not a very high number, but given that this study was done in the early days of social media, we can assume that number has increased.
I mean it makes sense. Jobs look up people on social media all the time so why wouldn’t medical schools?
What you post on social media is forever public. If med schools need to dig deeper into your application, they can absolutely look you up on social media.
What Do Med Schools Look For On Social Media?
Imagine you were hiring someone for a role that required an individual who was hard-working, honest, and able to solve problems. In other words, the type of person who would make a good doctor…
Would you take everything on the resume at face value? Or would you look them up on social media to see what kind of person they are?
After looking them up, you find a bunch of pictures and posts around partying and drinking. Even if the individual is over 21, you probably don’t get a great vibe from them right?
Sure maybe in person they’re great, but if you have an equally qualified candidate who posts pictures of himself volunteering at a soup kitchen, you will probably interview the latter instead.
Assume that med schools will make judgments of you based on the image you are portraying. Because after all, they’re just humans like you and me.
Scott M. Rodgers, MD from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said: “Every student should assume that admissions committees DO look up applicants online and sometimes come across information about people that can either hurt or help a candidate.”
How Can Social Media Negatively Impact Your Chances Of Getting Into Med School
Here are some examples of social media posts that will negatively impact your chances of getting into med school:
- Anything illegal: Underage drinking, drugs, and general law-breaking. Should be obvious but you would be surprised.
- Racist/hateful comments: Hateful speech and racism are unacceptable in any med school.
- Extreme political views: There is no problem with having an opinion. But if your view is especially polarizing, it might be best to keep it private. Again, people can be judgemental and you don’t want to piss off the wrong admission officer.
- Provocative photos/comments: Although expressing yourself is widely accepted by the general public, med schools can have rather “conservative” opinions. You probably won’t be denied acceptance over this, but you might affect a decision-makers mind subconsciously. Again, maybe put these photos on private mode during the application cycle.
- Extreme levels of partying: If you are over 21 it’s not a problem to have a picture with a glass of alcohol. But putting up pictures of you doing a kegstand is not recommended.
How Can Social Media Positively Impact Your Chances Of Getting Into Med School?
Social media shouldn’t only be seen negatively. There are plenty of ways that social media can positively impact your chances of getting into medical school. Here are some examples:
- Posts about volunteer service: Service is an important aspect of being a physician. Demonstrating this in your social media posts looks good.
- Posts around a general interest in medicine: If you are spending your free time keeping up with the world of medicine, this will look great to med schools.
- Motivational posts: A general sense of positivity will reflect well on you. I have heard of an instance when a med school quoted a student during his interview from something motivational he tweeted.
You Represent Your Med School Publically
Med schools are very conscious about their image. It’s important for them as a business.
As a student of a med school, you represent that school. Therefore, your behavior outside of school is just as important inside the school.
Med schools prefer students that treat their online profiles responsibly because they want to minimize liabilities in the future.
Social Media Can Be Used To Verify Aspects Of Your Application
In a previous article, we talked about what med schools verify in your application.
Due to resource constraints, med schools can’t verify a whole lot. But social media is a way for them to verify some information.
Most of the time, this is going to be around publications and things of that nature because those are normally shared via social media.
But they can also do some detective work. For example, let’s say you volunteered for an entire summer in a 3rd world country. If you are an avid social medial user and there is nothing on your account about this, that is suspicious and might tip them off to more investigation.
Not common but it’s worth mentioning.
Can Med Schools View Private Social Media Accounts
When applying to med school, a lot of students will switch their social media accounts to private. When doing this, only their friends or connections can view their accounts.
The only way a med school would be able to see your stuff would be through a mutual connections account.
Again, med schools are limited in the amount of research they can do for the thousands of students applying to their school. The amount of effort it would take for a med school to view a social media account set to private pretty much guarantees they won’t do that.
Your Social Media Account Follows You Into Med School
You need to keep in mind that even after you apply to med school what you post on social media matters.
Although it’s rare, students do get kicked out of med school for things they post on social media. Sometimes, they don’t even have to post the content, someone else might film them doing something illegal or highly inappropriate.
We live in a very public world where information can get around quickly. Even when you are not in school, you represent the med school you’re attending.
What Should You Do If You Are Concerned About Medical Schools Checking Your Social Media?
If you posted something on social media that you think a med school would not be happy about, just delete it.
Yes, whatever you post on the internet is permanent. We have all heard that. But med schools are not doing in-depth internet research on you. Most likely they would causally browse your social accounts.
Hitting delete should be enough to hide that bit of information you don’t want them to find.