American Universities and Colleges on Social Media: What Information is Out There?

Social media platforms are proliferating. Free and increasingly sophisticated technological tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter offer easy access to information about colleges and universities in America – and both colleges and students are trying to take advantage of the trend.

One of the more positive things that graduate schools do in the social media space is to post content about faculty research and what their students are doing. Facebook is responding to this trend with the launch of “Groups for Schools” which will allow only those students (current and prospective), faculty and staff members with a valid “.edu” email address from their schools to sign up and join the group. Using these groups admissions departments can reach and attract prospective students by posting admission information, answers to frequently asked questions, and relevant articles.

Students in general appreciate such content since it is relevant to their search for good educational institutions. What students don’t appreciate though is when universities and colleges merely try to market to them. For this reason prospective students prefer to use Facebook or LinkedIn to go to current students and alumni instead of official school groups, and find out about individual programs and the university as a whole. Such online interactions can give graduate school applicants an understanding of graduate school life, and the culture and academic merits of prospective institutions without going through official websites and admissions offices.

Applicants tend value alumni and current student comments about the program than how the university portrays itself as a whole. The feeling is that alumni and current students won’t ‘beat around the bush’. They will tell you exactly how things in the university or college are, information which is really important to prospective students. For this reason they prefer to go to student-run handles and groups rather than official handles since the latter tend to be subject to censorship that the former are not. Schools tend to delete comments on their profiles that do not show them in a positive light. Thus, many applicants feel that student-run groups are where one is likely to get the most truthful information about how things are in their prospective university or college.

But which universities should you really apply to? Well… come and ask us 🙂