Tag Archives: admissions

Beyond Blogging, #heweb11

As promised, here are my slides for my 9:30 AM (CT) presentation of Beyond Blogging: Create an Integrated Online Student Ambassador program.

If you can’t attend HighEdWeb this year, I hope that you will follow along with the hashtags #heweb11 and #soc2 this morning. Leave any questions or comments you have as a comment and I’ll be sure to respond!

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Inspiration for Facebook tabs from outside .edu (Part 1 of 4)

Note: I will be a regular contributor to mStoner’s blog.  This is a cross-post from my recent entry there.

It is important to provide your audience with a cohesive web experience. Customized tabs on Facebook can help achieve that goal, but they can do so much more! In the coming weeks I will highlight examples of compelling Facebook tabs from outside .edu that encourage your audience to “like” your Page and will keep them coming back.

Barack Obama – Are You In?

Obama Facebook tab

No surprise here, the Obama campaign is well-respected for using social media in new ways to inspire supporters.

Obama Facebook tab

I love the idea behind the “Are You In?” tab. First, you show your support by clicking “I’m in!” (simple, quick, and really what could be easier?) and then you are given the option to connect your Facebook account to see if your friends are in too. You are prompted to share that you “are in” on your wall and encouraged to invite your friends to join. Obama wants his supporters to spread the word for him, clearly aware that Americans trust friends and online recommendations far more than advertising messages.

Obama Facebook tab

How could this apply to .edu?
Envision “Are You In” as “Are You Applying?” Once you click “I’m Applying” the tab allows you to connect your Facebook account so you can share the good news with your friends. The tab then morphs into a place where you can invite your friends to join and interact with others who are also applying. Keep it social by giving prospective students a place to offer each other essay writing tips or ask current students questions about campus life.

Is your institution doing something new or different with Facebook tabs? We’d love to hear from you.

Next up: A favorite cartoon.


Rethinking a presentation

Next week I am presenting “Beyond Blogging: Create an integrated online student ambassador program” at HighEdWeb in Austin, TX.   I presented “Beyond Blogging” at two other conferences, therefore it should be a cakewalk, right?

Wrong.

This presentation was built from the perspective of someone who worked in a marketing office at a college specializing in social media.  In the past “Beyond Blogging” was essentially a case study of my former employer and the expansion of a blogging program into an online ambassador program.

I no longer work for a college, or in a marketing office, and I enjoy social media but my job doesn’t revolve around it.

Plus, HighEdWeb is a killer conference and you have to bring your “A” game.

Enter the need to rethink, revise, and expand the scope of “Beyond Blogging.”

Luckily, the knowledge I can draw on from managing the ambassador program is still very relevant and useful.  Insert examples and experiences from other institutions, and voila!  A new presentation is created.  A better presentation is created.  

And in the process the entire point of the presentation changed.  It’s no longer just about showing why ambassador programs are important.  It’s about showing ambassador programs can be created and will work anywhere.

To prepare for the presentation I spoke with higher education professionals at Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Oswego, College of William & Mary, and the Glendon campus of York University.  Combine these interviews with my knowledge from Saint Michael’s College and you have mixture of public and private; small, medium, and large; liberal arts, technical, and research institutions; and even an international campus.  These five schools are a great cross-section of the higher education industry.  (I only wish I could have added a community college to the mix!)  And guess what?  Online ambassador programs work for all of them.

The key is identifying what your goals are and finding the right mix of tools to support those goals.  This is what my presentation will focus on.

“Beyond Blogging” is in the social media track, Monday morning at 9:30am CDT.  This presentation is relevant for anyone who engages in admission-focused marketing.  If you are attending #heweb11 I hope to see you there.  If not, I hope to hear you in the backchannel and I promise to post my slides Monday morning so you can follow along.

Here’s a teaser:

Adam Lambert = Saint Michael's College

I was also inspired to recreate this presentation from a couple posts on Seth Godin’s blog.  Maybe they’ll inspire you too.
Really bad Powerpoint
The atomic method of creating a Powerpoint presentation


A new trend in higher ed video?

The creation of funny and light-hearted college and university promotional videos has been on the rise ever since UQAM published their lip dub to “I Gotta Feelin'” exactly two years ago.  Since then there have been flash mobs, 16 minute musicals, spoofs on those 16 minute musicals, strange British attempts to be funny, oh and of course… more lip dubs.

I’m a little sick of flash mobs and lip dubs (and still waiting for the unflash mob to appear) but one style of video that I really enjoy are the music videos that are being produced by both institutions and students.  Chances are you know by now that one of my favorites is Midd Kid (completely student produced!) but I also enjoy Call Me a Duck from the University of Oregon, a well produced video created to engage an eager audience who learned about the group On The Rocks from NBC’s The Sing Off.  While at St. Mike’s I ran a video contest for students and received two music video entries Knight Vision and the contest winner At Saint Michael’s, proving to me that these videos are of interest to the 18-24 year old range.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Joe Schuberth, associate director of undergraduate marketing at Towson University, asking me what I thought of a new music video he produced with students called I Tell ‘Em Towson University.

My response? “HOLY CRAP THIS IS AWESOME!”  Although, I think I toned it down a bit for my email reply.

Luckily, Joe was willing to answer a few questions about this fantastic video…
_____________________________________________________________________

Where did the idea for “I Tell ’em” originate?  Were you inspired by other institution’s music videos?

I wanted to do a music video since I started working for Towson a little over three years ago.  If they are done well, they are effective at getting tons of people talking and excited for an organization.  With so many students using social media, I knew a music video had the potential to explode and reach both people who were considering Towson University and those who might not initially have Towson on their radar.  I’ve seen “That’s Why I Chose Yale,” but I wanted to do something different.  I wanted it to be from the students so it felt genuine and original.  It took three years for it all to come together because I needed the right mix of talented students, and I finally found them during the winter of 2011.

What was your process?  You mentioned working with students, how did you discover their interest in doing such a project and what steps did you take with them to produce the video?

I manage a YouTube channel, which features videos filmed and edited by Towson students.  I hired Henry Basta to be part of the student YouTube crew in the fall of 2010 after an impressive interview and viewing some of his work which included a music video he and his friend, Jay Karolenko, produced for a video contest held by the library on campus.  After working with and getting to know Henry for a semester, I was even more impressed with his creativity, attention to detail and his zeal for Towson.  I knew Henry and Jay made up the band, Sharpened Crayons, and I started watching more of their videos on YouTube.  Search them yourself, you won’t be disappointed.  I started realizing that I had an opportunity to work with them and the rest of our student YouTube crew to make the music video I had been talking about for years.

At the beginning of the spring semester, I brought Henry and Jay in to talk over the idea with them.  They were thrilled with the opportunity and we immediately started throwing out ideas.  We met almost every week for the entire spring semester.  We started with the song.  A music video will go nowhere without a well-produced song.  I gave them some guidelines of things that I wanted them to cover, but I really wanted this to be something that came from them as students of Towson University, so I left most if it up to them.  They came back with lyrics, we made some tweaks, and then they added the music to it.  I loved what they did with the music.  I have no musical talent whatsoever, but I do think I know a good song when I hear it, and when I heard their first cut of this song, I knew we were going to be doing something big.  I couldn’t get the song out of my head!

After the song was finalized, we started planning out all our shots.  I also wanted the video to be a quick tour of Towson for anyone who watched it, so I knew we had to have lots of different shots and involve lots of different people all over campus.  We all worked to set up all the shots and made sure we could do things like have a dance party underwater with the women’s swim team or in the middle of a dining hall.

We wanted the ending to be our grand finale, so we spent a lot of time planning that out and getting some of our students, cheerleaders and marching band to participate, as well as our mascot, Doc the Tiger.  All of the student YouTube Crew, including Henry and Jay, played a part in figuring out the right camera angles and techniques for all the shots, especially the ending.  Chad Harrell was the main videographer for most of the shots, and Alex Nearey and Steven Wilson also played roles in filming.  I was really blessed with excellent student talent around me to be able to pull all this off.  After we got all the footage, Henry edited it together.  I gave him some feedback and so did some of the other members of the YouTube Crew our other students, Henry made some changes, and we finally had a music video after four months.

Why did you choose to invest time in a fun promo video?  What are your aims and objectives?

Our students are some of the best people to tell the story of why a prospective student should come to Towson University, so when I saw this opportunity coming together, I had to take it.  The main goal of the video is to increase excitement for Towson University and ultimately bring in more students who want to become Towson Tigers.

How will you be promoting this video?

We are promoting the video through e-mail and our website, and it is the featured video on our YouTube channel.  We will be showing it during our campus tours and our Open House events.  The Towson community liked it so much that we had a request for it to be played on the television screens in our University Union, so it now plays on a loop there too.

What will constitute success with this project?  How are you measuring results?

Measuring results is a challenge with something like this because you will never truly know how many people were affected by the video.  But we will do our best to measure results by including a question about the music video in the surveys we conduct with our prospective students.  Hopefully this will tell us whether or not the music video played a factor in their decision on whether or not to attend Towson University.  We can also obviously measure views.  We’d like to have at least 50,000 views within a year of releasing the video.  We are on our way with 28,547 views so far as of 9/8/11.  The comments on YouTube have been a nice sign of success too.  Alumni, current students and prospective students have all been commenting on the video with lots of excitement and pride for the school, which is exactly what we wanted.

_____________________________________________________________________

Watch the video for yourself!  What do you think about this new trend in higher ed videos?  Leave a comment and let me know.


Georgy Cohen’s HighEd Web Arkansas Keynote

You must watch this powerful keynote given by Georgy Cohen at the HighEd Web regional in Arkansas.

“Once Upon a Semester:
Storytelling as a framework higher ed marketing”

Storytelling rules by Georgy Cohen


Thoughts: 2011 E-Expectations Report

Think about your web presence and not just your web site.  Your web presence is anywhere, anytime.

your web presence

This is the concept that Nick DeNardis and I opened with in our Penn State Web Conference presentation called “Give Your Content Legs and Run With It.”  This idea is also stated in the very first sentence of the 2011 Noel Levitz E-Expectations Report.  “The rise of social networking and the growing use of mobile Web access have fundamentally expanded how students access information and interact online.”

Your audience interacts with content.  Are you spending your time wisely to create the content they need and want?  How can you know what that type of content is?

The 2011 E-Expectations Report can help guide you.

This report surveyed 1045 students and 517 parents from across the USA to find out what their online expectations are during the college search.  If you work in Admissions or do recruitment-focused marketing, this report is a must read.

Key Findings

While I strongly encourage you to read the report for yourself (and perhaps even print it out and go through with a highlighter!) I have pulled out what I believe are three key findings and my reactions to them.

55% of students watch videos on college web sites

This number is up 13% from last year’s survey.  Also, 27% of students report that they visit other video sites (like YouTube) to look at schools on their list, up 17% from last year.

What type of videos are they seeking? Nearly half of respondents report that student life-related videos are most interesting.  These are videos that highlight on-campus activities and events and simply give prospects a sense of what it is like to be a member of your college community.  These videos are typically short, fun, easy to watch, and feature current students.

Here are some examples of great student life videos:
Lunch Break – Boston College
Penguin Plunge – Saint Michael’s College
Gym, Tan, Laundry – Stonehill College
First-Year Trips – Dartmouth
The Final – 2011 – West Virginia University (an awesome recap of the Class of 2011’s thoughts on life and leaving WVU)

47% of students and 57% of parents say a bad experience on your site will have a negative effect on their perception of the school

In fact, E-Expectations reports that 1 in 5 students will actually drop a school from consideration.  This alarming statistic makes me want to immediately do user testing on my institution’s website to make sure that information is easily found and the content is useful and interesting.

The report did not ask students what they considered to be a “negative experience” but we know that for many prospective families the website is their first “visit” to your college.  How much time is spent training student ambassadors and admission staff with the goal of portraying an exciting and positive (yet accurate!) account of the school?  That time will be wasted if students are writing off your institution before they even show up.

The report also found that both students and parents are first clicking on academic programs or admission information.  If you are trying to decide where to spend your dollars and/or time beefing up your site, doesn’t it make sense to start there?

Here are some resources to help you evaluate the design, structure, and content on your school’s website and to help you keep up with web trends:
Meet Content
Rebranding in Higher Ed– Higher Ed Live
EDUCheckup
eduStyle

While 80% of students surveyed have a Facebook account, only 27% have viewed a college Facebook page and nearly 2/3 of that population say the experience had no influence on their decision.

Well this was a bit disheartening, I will admit.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a college that is not putting time and effort into developing a Facebook presence.

My approach to Facebook?  To the best of your ability try and emulate online the vibrant campus community that occurs in real life.  Facilitate interaction between current students, alumni, staff and faculty, and even prospective students under one roof.  I’ve never felt that having a Facebook Page just for the admission office was a good idea.  The audience changes too quickly to ever build a strong following and I’d much rather send prospective students to a main institutional Page so they can see broader information and have the opportunity to interact with the community

Many schools find that accepted and enrolled students are more likely to join a “Class of” Page or Group.  These students are interested in connecting with each other at that point.   A recent post on .eduGuru examined community-building on both Pages and Groups that you may find helpful.

Other Resources:
SUNY Plattsburgh makes excellent use of tabs on their Facebook Page to bring all of their audiences together under one roof.
Tim Nekritz at SUNY Oswego expressed his belief on having just one Page to rule your various audiences back in January.

Know YOUR audience

When it comes to re-evaluating your web presence, this report will give you a jump start.  However, you may find yourself scratching your head at some of the findings.  Your audience of prospective students may behave differently than those surveyed, which is why it is important to collect and pay attention to your own metrics.

For example, E-Expectations found that only 1 in 4 students review blogs.  I know (because we ask them) that 2 in 3 enrolled students use SMCBlogs as a tool to help them learn more about Saint Michael’s College, but our audience and the type of student we attract is very different than other institutions – especially big state schools!
________________________________________________________

There are many more compelling and important results to this survey that I did not discuss in this post.  Here is a Storify compiled by Mike Petroff on the findings he found to be important.

What results of this report did you find particularly interesting?  Please share your thoughts below.


Old Facebook groups to be archived

Facebook groups will be archived

Ready or not, it’s time to upgrade!

Facebook users who are the creator of the “old-style” groups will be receiving the above message starting today.  “Upgrade or be archived.”

I am personally excited for the opportunity to upgrade old groups.  Over a year ago I created the Class of 2015 group for Saint Michael’s College.  When Facebook launched the new group, (which includes a more interactive wall, chat features, post notifications, the ability to add documents and more) I was green with envy and sad that I wouldn’t be able to try it out with the Class of 2015.

Have you been using the new Facebook group for your incoming class?   Do you seen more interaction among the students?  What do you think about Facebook pushing old groups into the new group style?


Facebook and Enrollment – What do future students want?

Recently All Facebook has been all about higher education.

In my previous post “Admission Counselors on Facebook?” I attempted to clear up some miscontrued Kaplan survey results that All Facebook reported on.

Today’s headline?

Students Get To Tour College Campuses On Facebook

My first reaction = It’s cool… it’s really cool…but who will actually do it?

My opinion on Facebook and Enrollment:

When Suzie HighSchool gets home from softball practice she might log into Facebook.  But, I’ll put $10 on the fact that she is not going there to conduct her college search.  She is going to Facebook to connect with her peers and future classmates.  Suzie hits up your website or sites like Zinch (which are geared towards the college search process) to start her college search.

I believe that future students search for your institution on Facebook typically after they have applied to your school or have been admitted.  They want to join groups related to the college, their class year, and/or clubs and programs your institution offers that are of interest to them.   In short, they go to Facebook to connect and engage with other humans.

I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on this story and on using Facebook in the enrollment marketing strategy.  Do you agree or disagree with me?  Let’s get this conversation started…


Admission Counselors on Facebook?

Nothin’ like twisting around some statistics to start off your Monday.

Higher ed and Admission folks may have missed this article over the weekend from All Facebook but twitter was well… a-twitter with this Huffington Post story this morning that ominously warns prospective students to clean up their Facebook profile or else be rejected from every school you have applied to.

Comparing apples to oranges

To state (in the original article) that “Four out of every five college admissions offices use Facebook to recruit students” is not equivalent to “Four out of five college admission offices use Facebook in the application decision making process” which is the conclusion that the Huffington Post jumps to.

This blatant misrepresentation of Kaplan’s statistics (which I can’t seem to find) is frustrating.

Admission Officers are busy

I spent two years in Admissions and during reading season you are… big surprise… READING!  God help me if I had time to do anything else.  I google’d an applicant once because the essay seemed too good to be true given the student’s test scores and transcript, but even in that case I was googling the essay and not the student herself.

(The essay was too good to be true, but that is besides the point.)

Mark Rothbaum of Varsity Outreach (a company that designs customized college Facebook apps for “community building and targeted communication” between admission’s and prospective students) told me, “I haven’t talked to a single admission counselor who has searched for a student on Facebook.”

St. Mike’s is considered one of the 80% of schools that use Facebook to connect with students, but that’s all we do, we connect with them and we do it appropriately – through Pages and Groups.  Admission counselors aren’t friending students or witch hunting them.  I continue to connect with hundreds of prospective students via the Class of 2015 Group, but I will never click on a student’s name to see their profile.  I don’t have the time and frankly, I don’t care.

Are you John Smith? Or John Smith?

Have you ever accidentally friended the wrong person?  Maybe not, because there is a good chance you can recognize them from their photo.

I just did a search for John Smith of Boston, MA.  Do you want to guess how many results were returned? 8 bagillion.

Most admission offices do not require head shots to accompany the application.  If I don’t know what John looks like there is no chance of me finding the correct one, and remember I don’t have time to be doing this search anyway…

Is this even legal?

In my conversation with Mark, he raised the question of the legality of all of this.  That’s an answer neither of us had and one I doubt a school wants to be put in a position to find out.

What’s your take on these articles?  Are you an admission counselor that consider the Facebook profile of their applicants?

UPDATE 1:  Here is the Kaplan Survey that both articles referenced.  Big thanks to Katye Robare Munger for locating it.

The results actual say that the majority of schools do not have official policies regarding using social media in the decision making process and of the schools that do have a policy, nearly half are not even allowed to visit the social networking site.  This question is asked completely separately from the question “Do you use Facebook to recruit prospective students?”

UPDATE 2: What does an Admission Counselor actually look for in an applicant?  Carrie Pratt, Admission Counselor at Saint Michael’s, writes this blog post.


“Chance me” Facebook! Will I get in?

Mom: “Hello, my daughter Laura was rejected from your fine institution today but 6 months ago Facebook told her she had “big happy face” great chance of getting accepted.  Explain yourselves!”

Mary Ann, Director of Admissions at Broadway Rules University: “Sorry, but Broadway Rules had a record number of highly qualified applicants this year and Laura’s grades and test scores didn’t make the cut.”
OR
Mary Ann, Director of Admissions at Broadway Rules University: “Sorry, but there are more factors to the admission process than just grades and test scores and we felt like Laura wasn’t the right fit overall for Broadway Rules.”
OR
Mary Ann, Director of Admissions at Broadway Rules University: “Sorry, but the recommendation letters we received all said that Laura is a pompous jerk who doesn’t work hard or care about excelling in the classroom.  That’s not the type of student who succeeds at Broadway Rules.”
OR
Mary Ann, Director of Admissions at Broadway Rules University: “Sorry, but Laura’s 3 paragraph essay on her uncle who kills cats did not impress our admission office.”
OR …

Point made, I hope.  The admission process is A LOT more than the basic set of questions presented by AdmissionSplash, the new Facebook App which attempts to predict if a student will get into the colleges on their list.

It is surprising to me that AdmissionSplash is making waves (heh heh), because this is not a new concept.  In admissions we call this “chance me.”  AdmissionSplash is not the first, nor will it be the last, of these types of sites.  MyChances.net, College Confidential, and Collegedata.com are all sites designed to match you to the “right” college based on your interests, grades, test scores, and more.  The buzz must be because this is the first “chance me” on Facebook and it allows you to share your results with your friends.

As a former admission counselor I can sit here and tell you that the admission process is more than just grades and test scores until I am blue in the face.  If it wasn’t then there would be no need for admission counselors, they’d be replaced by computers.  But high school students and their families love the “chance me” game.  They crave the (false?) assurances that these types of sites can give them while waiting for the decision letter to come in the mail.

These sites are flawed.  Each year is different for admission offices and the “type” of students they accept – based on enrollment needs, number of applications, etc.  Knowing the profile at Saint Michael’s College I entered in a number of different profile possibilities – some I knew would be clear admits/denys and others I knew were gray areas.   To say the least, I was disappointed with the results that AdmissionSplash spit out at me.  While I can’t speak for the three other colleges on my list,  the data I entered to get the results below should have produced the “fair” or “good” face for St. Mike’s.

admission splash image
What do you think?  How seriously do prospective families take a “chance me” site or app?  Can we trivialize the entire admission process down to just a few data points?


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