Preprofessional Advising Ventures into the World of Twitter

By Tamara R. Menghi, Assistant Director for Preprofessional Advising, Career Development Center

This is the first of a series of articles on the use of social media by DUE offices...

In an effort to see what all the Twitter hype is about, Preprofessional Advising launched a MITprehealth Twitter in March 2009. Since its inception, 100+ individuals or “tweeples” have decided to “follow” MIT prehealth.

Learning the Lingo*

Twitter: A free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets.
Tweets: Text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers.
Follower: Individuals who follows or subscribes to your twitter.
Tweeples: Twitter people, Twitter members, Twitter users

For those unfamiliar with its uses, you might be wondering why use Twitter if you can e-mail? For Prehealth Advising’s purposes, the use of Twitter has been to complement the many means of communication already in use with the prehealth community. E-mail and listservs still provide an important function for Preprofessional Advising when more content heavy information to the prehealth community is necessary.

The expected (and unexpected!) benefits of using Twitter for Preprofessional Advising have been:

  • Quick & Efficient Announcements – For our followers, short bits of information on news articles, trends, and important deadlines can be received (without clogging up e-mail), no matter if they are on their personal computers, taking the T, or dining out for individuals using the Twitter application on their cell phones. Currently 40% of MITPrehealth tweeples are MIT students. (The remaining 60% are admissions offices, career counseling and academic advising professionals and interested individuals.)
  • Connecting to Admissions Offices - The medical schools at Duke, Harvard, University of Chicago, and Yale are just a few that are now on Twitter. These schools are using Twitter as a vehicle to give admissions updates, information about their programs and advertising recent podcasts of important events.
  • Connecting to Peer Professionals – Twitter has served as an easy method of openly sharing information and resources with professionals at MIT and Prehealth Advisors and Career Counselors at other institutions.
  • Professional Development - Staying current on prehealth advising and health career related topics has been made simple through Twitter. MITprehealth follows the NIH, New York Times Health, American Medical Association, Wall Street Journal Health, and much more.

In the 2009-10 academic year, Preprofessional Advising plans to more broadly advertise MITprehealth to grow its followers and will evaluate the effectiveness of its use for communicating with the prehealth community.

If you are interested in prehealth related announcements and updates, follow us at http://twitter.com/MITprehealth.

*Twitter Definitions were provided by
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter and
Mashable http://mashable.com/2008/11/15/twitterspeak/


Editor’s Postscript:

There many other MIT offices and departments using Twitter and there are plenty of student tweeples, both individuals as well as groups. Here are a few examples:

Alumni Association: http://twitter.com/MIT_alumni
MIT Libraries: http://twitter.com/mitlibraries
OCW: http://twitter.com/MITOCW
MIT News: http://twitter.com/MITNews
TechTV: http://twitter.com/MIT_TechTV
Media Lab: http://twitter.com/medialab
MIT Sloan: http://twitter.com/mitsloan
MIT Medical: http://twitter.com/MITmedical
Undergraduate Association Senate: http://twitter.com/ua_senate