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Protect your privacy when selecting a user name.


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When picking a screen name at the Grad Cafe, please consider the value of NOT using the same name that you use on social media. For some members, especially newer ones, finding out who you are is as easy as highlight ===> right click ===> search google for <username> in less time than it takes to read this sentence.

While it may be highly unlikely that a member of an admissions committee will come here looking for a specific person, the Grad Cafe is a known location, and the contents of the fora turn up in Google searches. While you may think that your personal interest in X is no big deal, you will never know if that interest is a deal breaker for departments that have been burned by aficionados of X.


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Very good advice. I would suggest everyone review this standing policy that we have on these forums: 


An additional option: If you find that you already chosen a username** that reveals too much information about you, there is a way to change the way your name is displayed in the forums. You can click on your name in top right corner and choose "Account Settings" from the drop down menu. Then, click "Display Name" on the left menu bar. You should see an option to change your name. This will retroactively change your display name in all of your old posts too.

However, in past versions of the message board, it is possible for any user to view your previously used display names by going to your profile. I do not currently recall any active users that have changed their names so I cannot check if this functionality still exists. Also, my personal rule is that once something is on the internet, it's there permanently. Anything that archives webpages can still connect your old name with your old posts. And if someone quoted your old posts, your old name will still appear.

(This name change can also be used in more positive ways of course, for example, a user who is called "AstronomyGradApplicant" this year may wish to rename themselves to "AstronomyGradStudent" next year!)

**Note: This is currently called a "Display Name" in the current version of the forum software.

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  • 3 months later...

A reminder, especially for those who have not heard back from all the schools/programs to which they've applied.

It is never too late to take steps to minimize your digital footprint. You have all worked so very hard to put your best foot forward in your application materials.

Why offer anyone the opportunity to alter the narrative by following the trail from your profile on this BB to your social media accounts?

Highlight your screen name ---> right click  ---> select option to search google for -- > look at the results from the perspective of people looking for ways to differentiate among qualified applicants who may or may not fit into a program. Do your FB posts give them a reason (if not an excuse) to put your file in the wrong stack?

Too this, too that, too something else. Not enough this, not enough that, not enough something else.


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  • 6 months later...

I am bumping this thread for the 2018 application season.

Although understaffed and, for the most part, poorly (read: incompetently) lead, the administration of the incumbent president--and many of his supporters--have demonstrated that the gloves are pretty much off when it comes to settling scores.

Please do all you can to limit your risk when picking your username and providing information on this BB.


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It's not just students and universities. It's universities and faculty as employer/employee. I have never been ugly, mean or sexual on social media, but I have voiced my opinion in the past. No more. I really thought about it all and decided that with all of the time and money spent, I really need to mind my own business because employers can find out about you. So now, I follow the old adage of saying nothing if I can't say something good or kind.

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