Facebook: The new college visit?

16 05 2011

When I was in high school, more moons ago than I care to count, searching for colleges involved going to college fairs, reading brochures I got in the mail, and visiting those colleges I was considering. And, if I was lucky, I knew a neighbor kid or the older sibling of a friend who went to a school I was interested in, so I could ask him or her what that school was like. But that was about it. Those were my options.

Now, I am a communications and marketing director at a university and am amazed at the increased number of places where high school students can learn about colleges and universities, most without ever leaving to their homes, thanks to the plethora of new media channels. 

One of those places is Facebook. According to the 2010 E-Expectations Report from Noel-Levitz, 76 percent of college-bound high school students use Facebook, and 76 percent support schools creating their own private social networks for prospective students.

Additionally, the folks at Cappex, say Facebook is becoming a mainstream communications channel in the college search process.

Prospective students see Facebook as an avenue where they can get unbiased information, unlike the information they get from a college in the mail or on the school’s website. On Facebook, in many cases, they are getting information from each other, not someone hired to say how great the school is. (That would be me. However, in full disclosure, I would say how great our school is even if I weren’t getting paid. You can go ahead and tell our president that, but he already knows.)

Yet, we know, social networks can be a double-edged sword.

But, we had an incident last month that illustrates the value — the smooth edge of that sword — of Facebook. In early April, a young woman posted a message on our school’s Facebook page. She had been accepted but wasn’t sure. She was hoping someone could give her some information about our town, which is small. Within minutes, two of our current students responded, telling her how friendly the campus was and offering her advice. They exchanged several posts. In the high school student’s final post, she thanked the college students, adding, “can’t wait to get there.” Three days after that post, we received her deposit.

That young woman made two college friends, learned more about the school she was considering, and decided that the school was for her, without ever having to visit, pick up a brochure, or talk to anyone face to face. On the one hand, that’s amazing. On the other, that’s pretty scary, particularly when their exchange could have been completely different.

Fortunately for us, in this case it worked.

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3 responses

18 05 2011
Facebook: The new college visit? (via jugglingwithnoballs) « astefanick

[…] by astefanick in Uncategorized When I was in high school, more moons ago than I care to count, searching for colleges involved going to college fairs, reading brochures I got in the mail, and visiting those colleges I was considering. And, if I was lucky, I knew a neighbor kid or the older sibling of a friend who went to a school I was interested in, so I could ask him or her what that school was like. But that was about it. Those were my options. Now, I am a communications an … Read More […]

20 05 2011
Lori

Ok….if I can remember correctly, when I went to college, my parents for sure influenced my decision. Not that I didn’t have a say, but finances played a roll so they put the schools brochure in front of me and i selected which ones interested me the most and would give me the opportunity to play sports. We went on the tour of PA and then I selected.

I do think that parents play a roll, perhaps not as big of a roll since I do believe the students are more active due to the media and social media.

I do think this, being in athletics students like to feel important (who doesn’t) so the more contact one has with a student, the more they feel wanted. This contact can be through any medium, but the contact is what they are looking for, not to mention the instant satisfaction of a response. Be careful though….. sensory overload is bad. Being methodically in the approach of using various media outlets is important.

Websites are critical to our business 🙂 you can post photos and videos and all sorts of good stuff. If only there were no limitations!!!

Time have changed, but mixing old with new, reaching out to parents and students, should yield a great class!

24 05 2011
kristina

When searching for an aswer, where do I go? The internet/social networking allows the inexpensive luxury of sampling data, seeing places. It is something I beleive we take for granted.

Especially living in a rural community, it allows me and us to be in touch with people who we might never have gave a second thought to, or shop from our fav clothing chain, or access research that was only available at libraries….

FB is not just a new way to visit a college, it is a new way of life in my mind.
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