Finding the perfect fit: How social media can help you find the right graduate school

  • You can learn a lot about a prospective graduate school through social media.
    You can learn a lot about a prospective graduate school through social media.

    Finding the perfect fit: How social media can help you find the right graduate school

    Social media is an essential part of most students' lives. You can use it to keep up with campus events, connect with fellow classmates outside of class, or share study tips and notes on your latest assignments and projects.

    But you can even take it one step further and use social media to help you decide on the best school to pursue your graduate degree. Social media can take you beyond a basic campus tour, allowing you to grasp a college or university's culture with the posts, photos and videos on their social media accounts. You'll get a sense of what the school values and a feel for things that matter most to them, helping you determine if the school is indeed the right fit for you.

    So how can you use social media to learn more about graduate schools? Let's look at three social media platforms and find out how they can help you find the perfect fit.

    According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Facebook is the most used social networking platform in the U.S., with 79 percent of college graduates reportedly using the site. This makes Facebook the best place to start learning about graduate schools.

    A cover photo is the first thing that grabs your attention when visiting a college or university's Facebook page. The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has a striking cover photo, giving you a glimpse of both the campus and Berkeley. The University of Georgia goes beyond that and presents a cover video highlighting various historic buildings within its campus. Meanwhile, The University of Texas at Austin's cover video shows you a day in the life around the university.

    Most importantly, you should check the different tabs on a school's Facebook page. The About tab contains background information on a university, including its history, milestones and contact details. Princeton University even has an Admission & Aid tab with an embedded video showcasing the Princeton experience and links to frequently asked questions about financial aid, applying and international students.

    It's also worth liking or following a school's Facebook page so any relevant news about its graduate programs and admissions process will appear on your Facebook news feed.

    Instagram is all about photos. The visual experience gives you an inside look into a college or university — the various areas around campus, how members of the student community interact, and the daily life of a student.

    Dartmouth College has breathtaking shots of their campus throughout the year, showing you what student life is like during all four seasons. West Virginia University does the same, with vivid shots promoting on-campus activities and school spirit.

    You can also harness the power of hashtags to learn more about the community within colleges or universities. UC Berkeley uses the #BerkeleyBound hashtag for students to share their moving day pictures at the start of the academic year. Similarly, Boston University encourages students and alumni to share their university pride using the #ProudtoBU hashtag.

    Since the launch of University Pages on LinkedIn, schools have created their own pages on the site to boost their visibility and engage with students and alumni. Students can, in turn, explore these pages to discover what a university has in store for them.

    You can follow your prospective college or university's LinkedIn page to learn more about the programs they offer. New York University has an active page with insights into classes and degree programs. Penn State University posts the latest research conducted by their faculty and students, which can help you identify potential professors and fellow students to collaborate with.

    You can also look into notable university alumni to find out what path they took to achieve success in their chosen field. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign often features successful alumni on its LinkedIn page.

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