New Social Media Networks and Mobile Apps Make It Easier For High School Students to Connect With Colleges
This summer, rising high school seniors can explore colleges without having to leave the comfort of their homes. Though most students conduct their preliminary college research on the college’s websites, social media is becoming a more popular avenue to explore when gaining insight into a campus’s culture, offerings, and student life.
More colleges are utilizing social media platforms like Periscope, Meerkat, Snapchat, Instagram, and more to give students another view of college life at that institution, and it’s working. Nearly 2/3 of students use social media to research colleges, and 3/4 of them find it influential. Some colleges, like Cornell, are even developing their own social networks in an effort to encourage admitted students to enroll. But is this useful? Absolutely!
How Social Media Benefits the College Search Process
College-bound students are more connected than ever and colleges know this. Gone are the days when students would buy big college guidebooks to explore potential schools. Now, everything is online and increasingly more social. According to NACAC’s most recent State of College Admissions report, 96% of colleges reported using social media in their recruitment efforts, up from 39% in 2008.
Social media is a great tool for students to use when researching colleges because it allows them to get a better “inside” look at a campus and its culture. Twitter and Facebook are great for keeping students informed about campus news, events, and any relevant admissions information. More visual outlets like Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat, and Tumblr help students paint a picture of a school and its campus, making it easier to actually see parts of the campus and help students envision themselves there.
Social media also helps students stay informed during the admissions process. Accounts frequently post updates about deadlines, application questions, and more. This is a valuable tool to make sure applicants are on top of everything and know about any important changes that might affect their application.
What to Look For
Other perspectives. When researching colleges on social media, look for things outside of what’s readily available on that college’s website or official social media accounts. Follow hashtags related to the college to see what others are posting. Follow different academic departments and organizations of interest to see what they’re doing and how they connect with students.
News and current events. Keep track of campus news and search Facebook, Twitter, or YikYak to see what actual students are saying about current events. Sometimes this can be a good way to get some insight into how students feel about things like campus culture, safety, and other parts of the college experience that might not be highlighted on a school’s site.
What to Ignore
Negativity. There are a lot of voices on social media, and some can be louder than others. Don’t let a few negative comments by one poster deter you from a school that might otherwise be a good fit. If you come across something that you have concerns about, reach out to a current student you might already know there or another student liaison and talk about it.
First impressions of photos. Don’t let a school’s Instagram account alone sell you on that institution. Photos can be altered, touched up, and filtered to look most appealing, and while many campuses have beautiful grounds, buildings, and more, don’t let the images alone influence your decision. This goes both ways. If a school isn’t so pretty in photos, don’t let that influence your decision either. The best way to really get a feel for a campus is to visit, so while going through photos online can be a great way to develop a mental picture of you on campus, it’s not the only thing to consider.