In this internet-obsessed age, many lecturers and university departments have succumbed to the lure of social media and are now on Twitter, tweeting interesting news and views about their subjects. Prominent examples are media-friendly lecturers such as Mary Beard and Richard Dawkins, but there are many, many more. Alice Hunt, for example, is a lecturer at Southampton University, currently tweeting interesting things about the English Civil War, as she’s in the process of writing a book about Oliver Cromwell. Dr Rebecca Williams is a lecturer in Volcanology at Hull University, and a good person to follow if you’re an aspiring geology student. And it’s not just individual lecturers who are worth following on Twitter; many university departments have Twitter accounts you could be following for relevant news (here’s the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford, for example), and so do the universities as a whole. There are also lots of useful Twitter accounts for any given subject, which tweet news and opinion that will prove valuable to you as you prepare to apply for university.
Following the lecturers for your subject at your chosen universities (and others – you don’t want it to look too obvious which universities you’re applying for!) is a particularly good idea, as you’ll easily be able to keep abreast of what they’re talking about and what they’re specifically interested in – and this is excellent preparation for writing your personal statement and going to interviews. They’re likely to tweet about the subjects they’re researching or writing about themselves, so you can learn more about these subjects ready to show an interest in your personal statement and interviews. You can also show an immediate interest – and get your name recognised by them – by retweeting and ‘favouriting’ their tweets, and replying to them with intelligent comments. And, of course, you can tweet interesting things about your subject yourself, so that if they happen to look at your profile, it’s a clear demonstration of your interest in the subject.