Social media matters – even in grad school. If you are thinking about earning a master’s degree in psychology, or any field, you need to closely examine your online presence. Based on a Kaplan Test Prep survey of 38 of the top 50 colleges according to U.S. News & World Report, 24% of college admissions officers visit an applicant’s Facebook or other social media profile. 20% used Google.
If your social media profiles do not reflect the image you would like recruiters and admissions offices to see, then you’d be wise to start deleting and editing. Beyond cleaning up your profile for acceptance, social media can be quite instrumental in your graduate education. Having gained ground around the world, social media has also found its way into colleges and universities around the world. Learn how you can make use of your social media profiles to get into grad school, thrive while you’re there, and enhance your future after graduation.
Don’t stop at tidying up your social media profiles. Match with the graduate program that is the best fit for you by doing the following:
1. Do you value staying connected to technology as an important aspect in your prospective graduate program? Take note of which schools are actively using social media to promote faculty and student research. Also, pay attention to whether these posts are genuinely engaging with students or simply for advertising.
2. Want to find out what the overall experience was like for someone graduating from a prospective graduate program? Reach out to alumni on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network.
3. Conduct a search on Facebook for students who are currently enrolled in your program of interest. Get in touch with a few to get their honest opinions on the program before you make a commitment.
4. Screen faculty members Facebook pages to see with whom you might enjoy working or conducting research with, or to get a general idea of their professional interests (which could come in handy come interview time!).
5. Appeal to admissions committees by sending a link to your video resume or curriculum vitae that you can easily create and host on YouTube.
Once you’re in, the practical opportunities for engaging with others and learning online multiply. Try any, or all, of these:
6. Look up and follow industry specialists, including your professors, on Twitter for constant updates on their research, events, and videos.
7. Get reminders for program and campus-based events in addition to class assignments by joining Facebook groups hosted by faculty. If your school participates in Facebook Groups for Schools, you can easily create and join groups within your school community as long as you have an appropriate institutional email address.
8. Follow professional organizations online like the American Psychological Association. Or, if you have more specific interests, such as social psychology, forensic psychology, or even cognitive-behavioral therapy, look up relevant organizations to stay abreast on leading research and industry trends.
9. Search for your professional groups or interests on Meetup to unite with others who may one day become colleagues or refer you to job opportunities.
10. Are you planning on attending any national or regional conferences or professional events? Live tweet what’s happening at the conference for your classmates who can’t attend. Use special hashtags like these #apa2015 or #ACAOrlando2015.
11. Share research articles and papers posted online relating to your given career interests.
12. Make lasting connections by returning home and looking up the other grad students and professionals you meet at industry events for future networking opportunities.
13. Create a cohort group on Facebook where you and your classmates can share notes, study tips, or just to chat casually (and share silly psych memes) when you’re feeling stressed out about exams.
14. Teaching an undergraduate class as a requirement for an assistantship? Create a special group just for your class and section to post updates or assignment reminders on Facebook. Or, have your students follow you on Twitter to stay informed.
15. Help Ted spread ideas by watching talks featuring researchers and practitioners in the field of psychology. Then, share them via your social profiles.
16. It is never too early for you to receive additional training or education beyond what your program offers. Follow PsychWebinars on Facebook to find out about free online trainings and webinars as they become available.
17. Collect data for your master’s thesis via Survey Monkey by posting a link to your study on popular social networking sites. Participants can easily click the link and provide responses to survey questions. Just make sure you get approval from the institutional review board at your school first.
18. If you are an online graduate student in psychology, take advantage of your professor’s virtual office hours through Skype or Google Hangouts. Many faculty members at brick and mortar schools are now offering office hours online, too.
19. Prepare the literature review section of your thesis using Academia.edu. Plus, once you’ve completed a research paper of your own, you can upload it to the site and benefit from a 73% increase in future citations.
20. Educate yourself and stay well-informed concerning leading psychological research by following top websites such as the American Psychological Association, PsychCentral, and the National Institute of Mental Health.
21. Are you following your favorite researchers and practitioners? If so, you just might catch promotions about releases of their newest books, and get a chance to participate in interactive question/answer sessions.
22. Compile a board with your favorite thought-provoking psychology quotes on Pinterest. Or, use Zazzle to create nifty t-shirts for you and your classmates to order.
23. Remember to nurture who you are beyond a student. Join Meetups that relate to your other passions such as writing, sculpting, gaming, or canoeing.
24. Develop a blog about your research or career interests. Blogging is a terrific way to consolidate your thoughts and stimulate creativity. Regular writing will make it easier to sit down and complete that 25-page research paper or work on your thesis. Plus, you can transform your blog into a perfect marketing pitch when it’s time to think about what’s next.
25. Create a profile and post your resume on LinkedIn.
26. Use LinkedIn to apply for jobs and connect with potential employers.
27. Update your video CV to send to potential employers to include your graduate experiences such as any internships, employment, or research.
28. Create an infographic for a visually-stimulating and user-friendly way to share your master’s-level research results for prospective Ph.D. programs or employers after graduation.
29. Develop a short and sweet bio on @vizify.
30. Decide how to make your social networking experiences work for you, and not against you, by using HootSuite.
The above 30 suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using social media to your advantage in graduate school. However, when it all becomes too much and you find yourself tuning in to your favorite social networks more than you are studying, use StayFocusd to limit your social media engagement and keep you on track for your degree.