A student applying to PhD programs writes:
I follow your blog, and I thought of a potentially useful topic for applicants to graduate schools. It is commonly believed (or at least feared) that Internet activity can influence one's chances of getting jobs and into colleges. Is it really a common practice for admissions people to Google the names of applicants and investigate, say, a blog under their name? Some people temporarily lock or otherwise remove all identifiable activity online during the admissions process. Is that advisable? Could a blog work for you if it's of sufficiently high quality?
This has some relevance to me, because I have a blog and have been applying to a few graduate programs. There's nothing particularly offensive on my blog, but it's fairly casual, sometimes sardonic, and definitely not a work of scholarship. How is this viewed by admission committees? Or does no one care?
My guess is that at the admissions stage, no one cares. During the various times I have done PhD admissions, I can't ever recall googling an applicant. At the hiring stage, I suspect things are more complex. Someone who is risk-adverse would be well-advised not to blog or 'tweet' since easily accessible blogs or twitters always run the risk of overwhelming other information about a candidate, for a job or for admissions. But at the admissions stage, my impression is that it doesn't much matter. What do others think? Signed comments preferred, as usual. Submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.