Written by: Mike Lemieux
Who knew that one of the biggest distractions to students today could actually be beneficial to their success? I most certainly did not. All day, every day I see my peers using social media much more than I do and it makes me wonder how well they do with their school work? It also makes me ask myself, am I not using social media enough? It turns out that social media can actually benefit a student’s success, and a school’s success.
Technology and social media play an important role in the way students communicate with each other, and the way colleges and universities communicate with students and share information online. At this point in technological evolution, social media can now even help students get accepted to college! A telephone survey run by Kaplan Test Prep said that 35% of the 365 college admissions officers surveyed said they checked applicants social media accounts. A large number of those who looked at social media, said that the review benefited the applicant. One example of this, according the Yariv Alpher, executive director of research at Kaplan Test Prep, is a student who posted to Twitter describing how she facilitated a panel on LGBTQ rights. “There are a lot of positives here, it shows diversity, it shows initiative, it shows leadership, and it stood out positively to an admissions officer,” Alpher said. Obviously grades, test scores, recommendations, and the traditional factors are going to effect a student’s admission, but social media can provide some additional clues for admissions officers seeking to get a sense of the student. Colleges are mindful of who they admit because they want to make sure the applicant can fit into the schools culture and to the incoming class community.
Prospective students now have the power to connect with a school’s campus life 24/7 through social media. School’s have taken notice of what students are looking for, and are using social media to share their campus culture. “Social media has been key for us and has been a great audience connector not only with prospective students, but with prospective parents,” said Kayla Germain, E-Media Coordinator, The College Of Saint Rose. Social media is a great way for colleges and universities to share the good that is happing on their campus as it happens which can help a school stand out from others, especially to parents. “Using social media we relay that you’re not just a face in the crowd. With parents it’s been really helpful because they love seeing some of the more engaging activities that we’ve been doing,” said Kayla.
More and more students are using social media to ask questions and share feedback. Vital.com emphasizes how important it is for a school to have a blog because it is a place where all the content can live, bringing visitors back to the website, and boosting your search engine optimization rankings. Jason Boucher, the Social Media Coordinator at the University of New Hampshire sees the value in their student blog as not only an engagement tool with current students, but also a recruitment tool to prospective students. UNH has a blog that gives students the opportunity to speak in their own words, and to be published, which is good for building their resume and getting some real-world writing experience. Prospective students and parents can read the voice of a current student and what their experience is like at the school, so it is authentic coming from an actual student.
Social media also now plays an important role in helping colleges and universities staying connected with alumni. Schools are able to share alumni’s life and career achievements through social media. By doing this, it helps reconnect alumni and help grow the school’s exposure, and also helps current students connect with alumni that are working in the same field as they desire. Colleges and Universities that are doing a great job of connecting with students also know how important it is to keep those connections after college.
In this age of technological evolution, the idea that social media only has a negative effect on students, and that some admissions officers might check an applicants social media accounts, shouldn’t be that bizarre. Today’s students have grown up communicating and sharing their lives through social media, so it only makes sense for higher education to integrate social media into their culture.