#CollegeSearch: Finding your Best Fit with Social Media
You’ve gone on the tours, sat through the information sessions, and examined every inch of the websites – is there any resource you haven’t exhausted in researching colleges? There may be, and it’s something you interact with on a daily – if not hourly – basis. Though social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr may seem like distractions in a tight schedule of school work, extracurricular obligations, and college applications, they can be effective resources by which prospective students research possible schools from the comfort of their own computer or smartphone.
Find and follow schools on your list. As social media has evolved into a major form of communication, schools have adapted by creating accounts for their offices, including admissions. Look through their Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates and information about the application and admissions process. Study accounts run by student groups to get a better idea of what’s going on, what students value, and what’s popular on campus. A college’s web presence can be a great way to learn more about a school’s extracurricular and social life.
Use #hashtags. Facebook now joins Twitter and Tumblr in the use of hashtags to organize and spread information. Check the hashtags of schools on your list for real time updates about what’s going on around campus. Is there an exciting speaker visiting tonight? Are students preparing for a big event this weekend? Track hashtags that are particularly popular or informative to stay in the know.
Reach out to current students. Through your hashtag hunting, find accounts run by current students at a given institution. Do they frequently post about campus life? If they do, don’t hesitate to reach out. While your tour guide and student admissions representative were helpful, they are trained to handle questions and concerns by the admissions office. For less biased information, message or tweet current students by stating your interest in their institution and asking questions about their college experience. Current students can offer a unique, candid perspective about their school, and may even run social media accounts with the purpose of interacting with prospective students.
Meet up before classes begin. With acceptances in hand, join groups on Facebook designated for your incoming class. Interact with other accepted students over social media to get a better idea of the people you could be spending the next four years with. Once you’ve made the final decision, continue to foster relationships with your fellow freshmen to receive updates, get excited, and maybe even find a roommate.
As social media becomes a bigger part of our lives, it’s only natural that it would become a larger part of the college research and admissions process. Prospective students that use social media are tapping into an informal, but valuable, source that can supplement more traditional avenues of research. Next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, consider how your social media time can be better spent on research to find your best-fit school.