The Connection between Me, Social Media, and College Admissions

Hello there! This is my first post in a series of entries about social media and how it has infiltrated the college admissions process. Why this topic, you may be wondering? Well, while this is first and foremost an assignment in my Social Media for Managers class (#ISYS6621, 7:00pm), my interest in admissions is more personal. For starters, unlike most of my peers, I am a Master’s student in the Lynch School’s Higher Education Administration program. My area of focus is college admissions, as I am a graduate assistant in Boston College’s Office of Undergraduate Admission.

In selecting a blog topic I looked to what I know and love. My hope is to become an assistant director of admission at a university after I graduate and an understanding of social media will make me even more employable, because as I am learning in class, social media is how businesses communicate today! And while I’m interested in working at schools that are not-for-profit, in a lot of ways a college can look like a business. An admissions officer then becomes the primary salesperson of the college’s product. As companies across the world use social media sources to connect with customers, it only makes sense that admissions offices do the same.

This blog is meant to analyze the ways colleges reach out to perspective students. Questions to be explored include: what types of social media are most effective in promoting schools, which schools are most successful in their use of social media, what is the response by high school students to this new way of reaching them, etc. I will also profile a few different colleges in depth ranging in school type, because as I have learned in my higher ed. classes, there are many different types of institutions who reach a diverse group of perspective students. Thus some forms of social media may be more useful based on the targeted clientele.

Before this post gets too dense, I want to go back to the beginning of my relationship with social media.  Because if I didn’t have an understanding of social media and its effects on me, I wouldn’t be in a class about it, writing this blog, or making connections to its power in the admissions world.

My parents were quite adverse to my use of social media during middle and high school, mostly because to my mom, internet communication was synonymous with cyber bullying and kidnapping horror stories.  I begged her to let me have an AOL screen name (which she never caved on) and was the last one of my friends to have a Facebook account.  This generational disconnect didn’t stop me from jumping on the bandwagon, however, and with each new App or website, I clicked download.  And thus my Iphone’s data dwindled as I added Snapchat, Twitter, YikYak, and Instagram to my social media list.

Between that initial introduction to Facebook and where I find myself now, so much about my relationship with social media has changed.  Its influence globally has grown significantly in the past decade, but as I reflect, I begin to understand that my use of it has changed too.  This realization comes from looking at my younger siblings and their social media tendencies.  While Facebook allowed me to craft a particular perception of myself to others during high school, documenting every piece of my life was not necessary.  I had a flip phone with no internet access and, besides email, Facebook was really the only outlet used by my friends to share information.  Today, my seventeen year old sister, Annie, has a Facebook, but she ignores it most of the time, favoring Instagram and Snap Chat to connect with her peers.  Wherever we are; the mall, picking out our family’s Christmas tree, celebrating a birthday, chances are she will make me stop everything to capture the perfect shot.  This is annoying for everyone involved.  I can’t really fault her though, because, embarrassingly enough, I do it too.

Because of this sad realization, I have tried to become more conscious and constructive with my social media usage, and taking a class on it will hopefully help.  I do feel that social media has the power to do great things, including adding a new dimension to how I, as an admissions counselor, interact with high school applicants.  The problem I see, in my sister and in myself, is an inability to separate from social media devices, the anxiety that arises when my Iphone dies and I miss a very “Instagramable” moment.  While my blog will be focusing on the positive uses of social media in a specific area, I do want to keep this issue of separation in mind.  Hopefully, in class, I will have the ability continue the discussion of making the most of social media while not letting it make the most of me.

5 comments

  1. Hi Jane,

    I’m really interested to see what you cover connecting social media and admissions in this blog. I’m a tour guide at BC, and I’ve talked to prospective students who came to look at the school only because they’d stumbled upon the BC Instagram, and thought the school looked pretty, so I definitely see how schools can use social media to their advantage. I’d also be interested to see your thoughts on the flip side–many high school students worry that admissions offices will look at their social media accounts to determine if the student is really a fit for the school. Looking forward to reading your blogs!

  2. I look forward to reading your posts about how social media has infiltrated the college admissions landscape. Although I am currently pursuing my MBA, my previous position was as an Assistant Director of Admission at Milton Academy, a private boarding and day school outside of Boston. I was responsible for generating social media content that connected with our prospective students. We used a student-run blog as well as admissions related Facebook posts on the school’s Facebook page.

    Social media can really have a powerful impact on a school’s marketing efforts. There are numerous examples of school’s that have used social media to their advantage to reach out to prospective students. I had to research a bunch of school’s use of social media to make a large presentation to my boss a few years ago. I am sure times have changed, but I look forward to engaging in the discussion with you.

  3. I really like what you said about how colleges look like a business in a lot of ways, thus admissions offices should use social media sources to connect with perspective students much like businesses do with customers. Because social media is the easiest way to engage potential students it would only make sense that schools and admissions offices should really put an effort into marketing the best of what they have to offer through their social channels. I am one of the “Social Fellows” that has been working with the Public Affairs office this school year, and I have been amazed at how on top of social the BC staff is. To pigtail off what Erin said, I am a sophomore, and when I was a senior in high school I was one of only 3 kids in my class that applied here. Over the past year and a half I have had countless people from my high school tell me when I am home over breaks that they have applied to BC simply because the Boston College Instagram account popped up in their discovery page or following feed, sparking their interest.

    I would love to hear what you have found to be the most effective way to utilize social media platforms to connect with perspective students, which platforms, and what type of engagement is most useful.

  4. The title of this post captured my interest because one of my friends at BC is currently working on his own start-up that offers a new platform for high school students applying to colleges. From my understanding, this online platform, which will be a substitute for the Common App, will incorporate a lot more interaction with prospective students via social media. It seems that admissions officers will be able to learn much more about these students as a whole by taking a look at projects they have created, works they have published, and pictures and videos they have posted. I am curious to see how much prospective students will learn about and interact with colleges over social media in the next few years. Will students begin to feel pressured to promote themselves through social media to admissions officers? Will admissions officers feel pressured to constantly promote their school to prospective students over social media? Is there a point where exposure of the university on social media platforms will lead to too many applicants. Looking forward to future posts.

  5. I’m looking forward to reading more about social media in the college admissions process, because I know that each year it becomes more and more important. Boston College is unique in that they are very forward-thinking with their use of social media. There are very few schools with a Snapchat, and, not to mention, a custom geofilter! So awesome. We had a student in our class last semester who worked in the office that does the social media for the university, so we got a taste of what that was like. It will be interesting to see what you learn on the subject of admissions!

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