For years, counselors have been advising students to clean up their social media when they embark on their college journey as admissions offices do consider applicants’ online activity. Yet, a recent article in the Journal of College Admission (NACAC) examines how colleges use social media to market themselves. Colleges have jumped on the social media bandwagon to attract and inform prospective students.
Social Media Impacts College Choice
During their college search, students tend to use college websites and review sites (Chegg, Niche) to gather information, but as students hone their lists, they turn to social media to get a sense of campus life. The NACAC report found that two in five students use social media to decide which school to attend. Hence social media is not as impactful for increasing student awareness as it is for influencing college choice.
According to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, US teens use social media as follows: 76% use Instagram; 75% Snapchat; 66% Facebook; and 47% Twitter. Furthermore, 63% of students use social media to research a college they're interested in and 60% have followed or 'liked' a college they consider.
Visit is "Golden Nugget"
For most colleges, the campus visit is still the "golden nugget," concedes one admissions official. "It makes a huge difference in the decision to apply." But for those students who cannot get to a campus, Instagram, where a college features a lot of photos of the campus, helps prospective students see themselves on that campus. And the student-run blog is a way for prospective students to hear about what life is life as a student - the classes, culture and how they fit.
Lately, colleges are experimenting more with video to appeal to "this generation's visual nature," states another college official. "Facebook Live video sessions and 360 shots give an enhanced view of the campus and have high click-through rates." Such visuals are particularly valuable to prospective students who are unable to visit college campuses.