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Using Social Media to Research Colleges

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Gabbi Tobias College Coach

Written by Gabbi Tobiason April 21st, 2022

I came to College Coach after being a decision maker in college admissions. I began my career at High Point University where I read and evaluated thousands of applications from territories across the US, including the Midwest and the West Coast. I led essay workshops and case studies to educate prospective families on the college admissions process. Dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion during my time at High Point, I implemented and led the office’s Diversity Recruitment Board, which focused on recruitment, yield, and retention of students from underrepresented communities. And as a recruited collegiate lacrosse player I understand the pressures and demands that the recruitment process entails. Not only have I worked with recruited athletes, but I myself have experienced the process firsthand!
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by Gabbi Tobias, former admissions officer at High Point University High school students are often reminded of the importance of maintaining a positive presence on social media by being careful of what they post, “like,” and subscribe to. After decades of constant social media use, we have learned the negative effects of living in a world where others can see your every move. Despite these warnings, social media can be a place where students can learn and grow. That’s right, as you are aimlessly scrolling through social media, you can be learning. Now, stick with me: It’s time to talk about the ways that you, as a prospective student, can maximize your productive use of social media throughout the college search process. Many colleges use social media as a way to market themselves to prospective, admitted, and even current students, a strategy that’s been especially effective throughout the pandemic when students haven’t always been able to visit campus in person. Let’s explore how you can use social media as you begin your college research. Instagram Many colleges and universities have official Instagram accounts where you can see pictures of campus, get information on events, and even connect with current students, faculty, and staff. You will often see schools let students do Instagram takeovers, or have a group of students conduct a Q&A session through IG live. Instagram can be a great place to get an instant feel of a campus and glimpse a typical day in the life of a student. As we all know, Instagram can seem overly edited and often doesn’t depict reality. Another fun and useful way to get a truer sense of a campus is to explore geotags, which indicate the physical location of content on an IG post or story. A simple way to find content through geotagging: open Instagram and head to the search screen, select the Places tab, then enter the location of the college or university. There you have it! Your results will show posts geotagged with that specific location. You can also do this by going to the Tags section where you can see people who have hash-tagged the university in recent posts. We also recommend you follow your prospective colleges’ undergraduate admission office IG accounts to be reminded of application deadlines, tips on how to apply, and events for prospective and admitted students. TikTok TikTok is the latest social media platform to consume millions globally. When TikTok first become popular, there were not many colleges and universities willing to get on board. But now schools can use it as a way to stay on trend by sharing students and staff doing a popular TikTok dance challenge or hilarious viral TikTok videos. You may even find some students sharing short day-in-the-life videos of themselves strolling through campus and short informational clips about a particular major or research project. You can use the search bar as a way to look up universities that are on TikTok. Facebook Think of Facebook as your “scholarly” social media account. You can use Facebook as a way to dig into articles, awards, and announcements about a college or university. Along with the main university-wide account, many schools have additional pages highlighting specific majors, sports, and organizations. Admissions offices often have their own Facebook pages to share important information about housing selection, events, and orientations, so be sure to join if you are able! Many schools also have admitted student groups you can join to connect with future classmates; for some schools this can be a great tool to find your roommates or suitemates! YouTube While you are watching viral videos of people eating ghost peppers, it couldn’t hurt to shift your attention to colleges on your list. Many schools have been using YouTube as a way to highlight their virtual tours, informational sessions, and events happening throughout campus. Like many other social media platforms, you may also come across videos from current students about their experience at the university through vlogs or sit-down “tell-all” videos. Using the comment section can be a good way to get answers directly from current students to any school-specific questions you may have. Snapchat and Twitter These social media accounts get an honorable mention. They are still viable ways to collect and gather information on a college, but many schools have shifted their focus to more popular platforms, like the ones above. Snapchat is a way to get short video snippets of campus and students, but the content disappears after 24 hours, making it impossible to retain information on this platform. Twitter is a way for you to converse with current students, faculty, and staff, or even gather information on school-run pages, or specific departmental pages. You can also use the search bar to find conversations that students may be having about the school by searching the university or college. You may find not-so-good information about schools on here, too, which could be used as a way to get the inside scoop of how schools are handling situations that arise on campus. Feel free to shoot the admissions or departmental page a direct message to get any questions answered quickly! Many of us have heard of demonstrated interest. While schools may not be using social media as a way to track demonstrated interest, it could not hurt to like, share, and comment on posts. Remember, the social media algorithm is based off of engagement. So, if you want to continue to see specific school pages on your feed, interacting with those accounts can ensure that relevant content continues to pop up in your feed. Now, what are you waiting on? Get to scrolling!

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