Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Record Percentages of Admissions Officers at Law Schools and Business Schools Visiting Applicants’ Social Media Profiles — and They Often Don’t Like What They Find

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New Kaplan Test Prep research shows that social media’s role in the law school and business school admissions process may be on the rise.

New York, NY (October 3, 2018) — The percentages of admissions officers at America’s law schools* and business schools** who say they have looked at applicants’ social media pages like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more about them has hit record highs, at 56 percent and 40 percent, respectively, according to new Kaplan Test Prep research. This compares to Kaplan’s surveys from 2011 — the first year the company began asking this question — when just 37 percent of law school admissions officers and 22 percent of business school admissions officers examined social media posts.

Notably, the actual occurrence of applicant social media profile checks is significantly lower than the belief that its use is acceptable practice in admissions. Kaplan’s surveys found that 91 percent of law school admissions officers and 71 percent of business school admissions officers say visiting applicants’ social media profiles is “fair game,” as opposed to “an invasion or privacy and shouldn’t be done.”

Kaplan’s surveys also find that among admissions officers who do visit applicants’ social media pages, the prevalence of finding something that hurt their chances of getting in is much higher among law schools than business schools, at 66 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Law school admissions officers most cited things like “inappropriate photos” where applicants were drinking underage or engaged in “unsavory activities.” Other mentioned applicants who posted something racist or posting about undisclosed criminal activity. Business school admissions officers most cited applicants who misrepresented their professional experience.

On the flip side, 29 percent of law school admissions say that what they found has helped applicants’ admissions chances, compared to a much larger 46 percent for business school admissions officers. Both groups cited discovering community service activities unmentioned in the traditional application as aiding applicants’ admissions chances.  

“An overarching theme to the entire law school application is whether a prospective student is able to exercise good judgment; an applicant’s digital trail can be an indicator of whether or not he or she possesses this quality,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “The legal community takes ethics among its members seriously. You not only have to pass a state bar’s Character and Fitness test to be admitted, but even afterward, unethical behavior can lead to your disbarment, stripping you of your ability to practice.  Not many other professions have that kind of enforceable code of conduct, so it’s natural that law schools do scrupulous research into their applicants.”

Noah Teitelbaum, Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-business programs, added, “While what you post on social media is not nearly as important as the traditional factors in admissions process like your standardized test scores and GPA, always be mindful of what you post. Your social media footprint can potentially give you an admissions boost, but in some cases it can and will be used against you. Share wisely.”

*Based on the results of a Kaplan Test Prep survey conducted by phone in August 2018-September 2018 of 117 law schools, including 28 of the top 50, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

**Based on the results of a Kaplan Test Prep survey conducted by phone in August 2018-September 2018 of 162 business schools, including 34 of the top 100, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

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 best in class interactive livestreaming capabilities. 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. Among those tests are the SAT®, PSAT®, ACT®, AP®, GRE®, GMAT®, LSAT®, MCAT®, NCLEX-RN® and bar exams. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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