Colleges Expand Online Presence

Today, even colleges are using the power of search and social media in an attempt to woo prospective students. Many colleges, which traditionally relied solely on campus visits and in-person information sessions, are now expanding their online presence in an attempt to reach out to more students. The admissions departments of many colleges can now be liked on Facebook and followed on Twitter. Other online techniques like blogs, virtual information sessions, and online “campus tours” are becoming increasingly common. The goal is to allow all students, even those who are international or may not be able to physically visit a campus, to gain a better understanding of a school’s environment.

Colleges’ tech savviness extends beyond campus visits to actual applications. In the fall of 2009, George Mason and Tufts University accepted supplemental videos in their applications (in George Mason’s case, in lieu of an essay) asking applications to display their passion and enthusiasm about any given topic, and, ultimately, themselves.

Andrew Flagel, George Mason’s dean of admissions, says the reason the school added videos to its application was to provide another outlet for students to add personality to their application. The school also accepted the videos as a way to cut down on the expense and time tied to conducting student interviews, he says.

The essay was traditionally viewed as a portion of the application where one’s personality could shine. Some believe a video does a better job painting an accurate representation of one’s personality.

Some colleges have even transferred acceptance and rejection letters online, rather than sending them via traditional mail. While there are obvious cost and time saving benefits to this method, some students, guidance counselors, and parents worry that the online letters are more impersonal—leading to a bigger letdown if students do not get in—and are more prone to mistaken admission results.

Sources: US News