Kaplan Test Prep Survey: A Growing Number of Business Schools Turn to Social Media to Help Them Make Admissions Decisions

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Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTestNews, @KaplanGMATPrep


New York, NY (October 25, 2017) — Kaplan Test Prep’s 2017 survey of over 150 business schools across the United States finds a growing number of them tapping into social media to help them decide who gets in and who does not*. Of the admissions officers surveyed, over a third (35 percent) say they have visited applicants’ social media profiles to learn more about them, a jump from less than a quarter (22 percent) in 2011. Additionally, many who check profiles do it frequently — of those business school admissions officers who’ve said they’ve visited applicants’ social media profiles, 33 percent say they do it “often.”

Notably, social media both hurt and helped applicants in nearly equal proportion. Among admissions officers who visit applicants’ social media footprints, half say have they found something that negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances — more than triple the 14 percent who reported this in 2011. Among the online discoveries that have hurt students:

  • “I found one student who made it clear that he wanted to flip houses. I thought, ‘Why should we offer a slot to him when you don’t need an MBA to do that.’”
  • “I learned about a student’s racial attitudes and didn’t want to bring that into the school.”
  • “We have had applicants who had disturbing pictures on their Facebook account.”

On the flip side, almost as many (48 percent) reported finding something that positively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances. (This question was not asked in 2011.) Here’s what helped applicants:

  • “We saw lots of information regarding volunteer work that was not included in the application.”
  • “We got a better understanding of the student. We got to learn more about their hobbies, and ambitions.”
  • “We were able to see their writing samples and creative thinking.”

Among all admissions officers, 61 percent agree with the statement “What students post on their social media pages is in the public sphere, so it’s ‘fair game’ for us to use to help make admissions decisions,” which may signal there is room for more taking this route.

“Successful business school applicants are the ones who are prepared. They submit strong GMAT® or GRE® scores, high GPAs, compelling letters of recommendation, impressive essays, and wow at the interviews. In a sense, that makes it scripted and choreographed, though rigorous. Business school admissions may take to social media to look for the less polished version of the applicant, not necessarily to find their weak spots, but just to see how they are in everyday life,” said Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduates programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “What you post on social media is a wildcard in the MBA admissions process and not nearly as important as the traditional factors, but always be mindful of what you share. Your social media footprint can potentially give you an admissions boost, but in some cases it can and will be used against you.”

For a one-minute video on Kaplan’s survey results, visit here.

To schedule an interview about Kaplan’s survey results, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

*Based on the results of a Kaplan Test Prep survey conducted by phone between August and October 2017. The survey included responses from 160 business schools, including 18 of the top 50, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Kaplan or this survey.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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