Survey: Most MBA Applicants Say Social Media Is ‘Fair Game’ in Admissions

Master of business administration applicants surveyed by Manhattan Prep/Kaplan said that admissions officers should be able to look at their social media posts.
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Published on June 26, 2024
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  • Most prospective MBA students surveyed by Manhattan Prep/Kaplan said their social media is "fair game" for admissions officers.
  • Sixty-six percent said that if an admissions officer saw all of their social media posts right now it wouldn't impact their chances of getting in, and another 22% said it would actually help their chances.
  • Forty-one percent still thought looking at prospective students' social media posts was an invasion of privacy.
  • Manhattan Prep/Kaplan noted that most business school applicants are now digital native millennial and Gen Z students.

Most prospective master of business administration (MBA) students aren't worried about their social media presence hurting their chances of getting into a graduate school.

A new Manhattan Prep/Kaplan survey of more than 300 prospective MBA students found that 66% said it wouldn't hurt their chances if an admissions officer had access to all of their social media posts across platforms.

In fact, another 22% said it would actually help their chances, while 12% said it would hurt their chances.

The aspiring students were more split over whether social media posts should be a factor in the admissions process. A slimmer majority, 59%, said social media should be "fair game."

The remaining 41% said it's an invasion of privacy for admissions officers to comb through an applicant's social media posts.

Stacey Koprince, director of content and curriculum at the Kaplan-owned Manhattan Prep, said students' confidence isn't a surprise: Younger students tend to be well-versed in social media.

"The vast majority of today's business school applicants are millennials and Gen Zers who grew up on social media, regularly using it to tell stories, share, and express themselves, so it's not too surprising that most are comfortable with admissions officers evaluating them on the content they post," Koprince said in a press release.

What was "notable," Koprince said, was that some prospective students said they were concerned that their political views shared on social media could be held against them.

Despite those worries, respondents were confident enough in their social media profiles to largely say they wouldn't delete posts.

A mere 3% said they would definitely delete posts, and only another 10% said they probably would. Thirty-eight percent said they probably wouldn't, and 35% said they definitely wouldn't, with 13% remaining unsure.

What Admissions Officers Think

Admissions officers tend to agree with the prospective MBA students, according to a previous Kaplan survey.

A large majority, 67%, of admissions officers told Kaplan that looking at applicants' social media posts is "fair game," according to a 2023 Kaplan survey. Just 28% actually say they've done it.

Christine Lilley, the executive director of college admissions programs at Kaplan, said in a January 2024 press release that wide gulf is longstanding.

"Kaplan has been tracking the role of social media in the college admissions process since 2008, and it's long struck us that there's a wide disconnect between the percentage of admissions officers who say they've visited applicants' profiles and, separately, those who say it's within their rights to do so," Lilley said.

Some say they don't have the time to sift through social media, Lilley said, and others tell Kaplan that they get everything they need through "traditional admissions factors" like test scores, GPA, extracurriculars, essays, and more.

"Our research additionally shows that when admissions officers do visit applicants' social media pages that they are much likelier to find something that negatively impacts their chances of getting in than helping them."

Koprince said in the more recent press release that social media is a "wildcard" but added that prospective students should focus on things that definitely play a factor in the business school admissions process like undergraduate and work experience, letters of recommendation, admissions essays, interviews, and standardized test scores.

"That said, we also caution everyone to be careful what they post online," Koprince said. "The hunt for online clout can sometimes have unexpected consequences."