Colleges attract students through social media outlets

By Brian Loschiavo
February 12, 2009

Shannon Keough

Cabrini College and many other colleges and universities are attracting high school students from around the country using social media. These new forms of recruitment are helping college admissions to research incoming students and to understand the importance of Internet behavior and its consequences.

Prospective college students are using the Internet and other forms of social media more than ever, which is causing admission offices to take action and try to sell their schools through these means.

“Using social media to get to high school students is something that absolutely works,” Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, chancellor professor of marketing at the University of Massachusetts -Dartmouth and director of the University’s center for marketing research, said. “Many students look online to evaluate a school and one that has live video and a blog are going to fare better in the minds of perspective students since they can get a better feel for the school and the type of student that goes there.”

Barnes talked about the new study that she has performed that represents one of the first studies on the use of social media by college admissions offices. This study compares social media used between 2007 and 2008 by college admission offices of four-year colleges in the United States. This research was done through extensive nationwide telephone interviews.

The studies looked at the student’s attitude toward social media and the usage and familiarity with it. The statistics show that the institutions that are using more social media to recruit students attract a large, broad range of future college students.

Cabrini is networking themselves through social media in many different ways.

The college has blogs and videos on their Web site as well as advertisements with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park and NBC 10. Besides these forms of social media, Cabrini has advertisements all over the Jersey shore including plane banners where prospective students can see Cabrini College in the sky.

“Getting in touch with students via social media is a crucial step for institutions to take if they are looking to stay competitive with other colleges and universities,” Barnes said. “Communication for them is 24/7 and wired and schools need to understand that.”

High school graduates of this day and age have been exposed to the Internet since childhood and they are constantly in touch with technology like digital music, cell phones and Internet social networks sometimes all from the same device.

The world of technology and communication has developed so much that prospective college students want information to be put in front of them quick and easily.

Barnes mentioned that social media has undeniably changed the landscape of college admissions and that the value of social media for college admissions offices cannot be underestimated as more and more young people spend increased amounts of time communicating online.

“The whole idea of using social media to recruit new students has definitely become a new trend over the past five years,” Barnes said. “Right now, over 40 percent of schools have blogs and its growing at about 10-12 percent a year now which will increase even greater as the years go on.”

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