How are Colleges Using Social Media to Attract Students?



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These days, colleges competing for the best students don’t just rely on boring brochures, emails, and their school websites. A study published in The Journal of College Admission evaluated the top 100 colleges and universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). According to the study, these schools use an average of 3.7 social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. Many colleges go beyond asking their marketing departments to employ social media. They also ask academic departments, college organizations, and students to grab the attention of high school students through their own social media presence.

Many students see college brochures as propaganda to lure them to a school. Today’s current and future college students have grown up with social media. It’s a big part of their lives, and many students expect colleges to use social media to attract them.

According to a Zinch and Inigral survey, 72% of incoming high school seniors reported that they researched their prospective colleges on a social media site. In addition, more than one-third of them stated that social media helped them decide which college to choose.

Colleges that maintain a stale Facebook page turn off prospective students. Those that present a bland online image aren’t doing themselves any favors. Robust social media campaigns attract prospective students; currently, many colleges need to upgrade their social media campaigns.

Yale University

The Yale University tongue-in-cheek musical video titled “That’s Why I Chose Yale” has received more than one million YouTube views. The video gives you a fun yet accurate musical tour of Yale given by college students. Created by students and recent alums, the video has received high praise as well as angry comments on blogs and listservs. The engaging video, a big departure from showcasing the head of admissions dressed in a suit and tie, goes a long way to suggest that students can actually have a good time at Yale University.

University of Rochester

The compelling college admissions rap video from the University of Rochester titled “Remember oUR Name” gets a big thumbs up from me. However, I’d be interested in reading some reviews from parents of students eager to have a fun time at the University of Rochester!

John Hopkins University

John Hopkins University hopes to attract prospective students via its social media website Hopkins Interactive. Prospective students can get uncensored information from current students about life on campus and across Baltimore. High school students learn what it’s really like to attend John Hopkins University; however, the homepage could use some pizzazz. The subdued “photos” section of the web page showcases some interesting, pleasant photographs, but it could use some enhancing… perhaps with the help of the students from the University of Rochester’s video!

University of Oregon

Many Universities provide useful and informative, yet comparatively unexciting, self-guided campus tours, such as the University of Oregon at its Foursquare page.

Harvard University

The Harvard Social Media Dashboard invites people to browse its latest posts, tweets, and videos. You get what you might expect from the prestigious Harvard University. The Harvard Social Media Directory includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Flikr, Foursquare, and StumbleUpon platforms from numerous Harvard University departments and organizations. The website could use some more spice, since even brilliant bookworms appreciate engaging websites.

Princeton University

The simple “I Heart Princeton” video that features students, faculty members, and employees making the heart sign with their hands could use a little pizzazz, but it does make the intimidating Princeton University seem a little friendlier.

Prospective students can also get an informative and entertaining look at life on campus at Princeton University through an engaging video featuring four Princeton University students. The video provides a glimpse of campus life at Princeton University. Of course, the keg party videos didn’t make it through the editing process!

These days, an effective online social media presence has a major impact on which schools students will ultimately choose to attend.

Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of topics related to the college experience for The Riley Guide.

Social Media and College Admissions
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