With the proliferation of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, graduate school applicants can gain unfiltered insights on graduate school life, U.S. News reports. With that ease of access through free and increasingly sophisticated technological tools, graduate students say they’ve charted new routes to understanding the culture and academic merits of prospective institutions without the aid of admissions offices.

“If you really want to learn about individual programs, aside from the university as a whole, I think you have to go straight to the current students and alumni,” says Rheanne Wirkkala, a client executive at the global public relations company Burson-Marsteller and a 2011 alumna of Yale University’s graduate international relations program.

“I might use Facebook or LinkedIn to meet alumni. At the end of the day, I’d be more concerned about what those people have to say about the program than how the university portrays itself as a whole.”

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staff and wire services reports