How Social Media Affects Post-Secondary Choices

Last year when I was searching for a Marketing Assistant, I received a number of applications via email, Twitter and LinkedIn. Whenever someone said they’re interested, I’d creep their social media accounts, I’d Google them, I’d find out all the information I could online. I also get emails almost weekly from students asking me questions about the industry and how to get a job in ___________________. This got me thinking, I know that employers are using social media to vet applicants, but what about schools? And do consumers use this same process to vet businesses they want to work with?

According to the Pew Research Center (and common sense), people between the ages of 18 and 29 are using social media at a growing rate. Almost the full population of “young adults” in that age group use social media (I’m not a young adult anymore apparently and that makes me feel sad). The increase of social media use among young adults, particularly among those who are at the prime age for college/university applications, has had a positive impact on their college application process.

So if you’re in the process of selecting a post-secondary institution you need to take your own, personal social media marketing and the social media marketing from the school into account… THIS ALSO APPLIES TO BUSINESSES. Savvy internet business peeps research vendors in the same fashion, so you can sub out “school” for “business” below.

Schools Are Creeping Your Social Media

A clean social media profile that looks well put-together can increase your potential school choices. If you’re a post-secondary applicant, you most likely have Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and/or Instagram. While a lot of applicants think admissions don’t check their social media pages –  current research shows that they do. Take ten minutes to clean up your social media accounts, clean up all the gross and inappropriate content… Or at least pretend during the application process that you’re Carlton from The Fresh Prince. Then when you get accepted you can go back to being Will or Jazzy Jeff  (this is apparently an old person reference now).

A telephone survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, hardcore college admission officers, indicated that a potential student’s social media page had a positive impact on the student’s application. The positive implications lead to more acceptance letters being sent out, and at the end of the day, the student who received them had more choices on schools.

Learning for applicants: Clean up your crappy profiles or lock them down!

Connect Potential Students with Alumni

It’s not hard to find Alumni of a school you’re applying to. If you’re still unsure of which school to apply to, you can easily search Facebook or Twitter to find Alumni. Example – It’s as easy as going to NAIT’s Twitter and searching for “#alumni”. As a potential applicant, you can reach out to NAIT alumni and ask them questions or learn about their experience at NAIT and decide from there if it’s worth applying to. (PS I graduated from NAIT and yes, apply to NAIT!)

Schools Need to Step Up Their Social Media Too

Social Media Listening / Monitoring

Post-secondary schools need to remember that social media has enabled potential students to get more information about them. Let’s face it, information on social media spreads at a rapid rate – One friend “shares” information on a social media channel, that information spreads to their friends, etc. Applicants are using information published on social media to learn about potential schools and the admission process (sometimes even some top secret admission tips). If schools can control this rapidly spread information, it will make it easier (and more ideal) for students to learn about possible opportunities from the source, and not through the grapevine of social.

Learning for applicants: Do quick searches on Twitter and Facebook to see what people are actually saying about schools you’re thinking of applying to.

Enhance Social Engagement with Schools

Universities and colleges (for example check out this online college), have awesome social media pages where the institution’s staff regularly connect with students and potential students. Those who are going through the admission process can reach out through the school’s social media channels to ask questions, learn about events, and to receive the information that they need to make the right decision for their needs.

Learning for applicants: Don’t forget you can stalk your potential school online too!

Manage the Admission Process

The admission process can be extremely stressful for most students – especially those who are applying to multiple post-secondary schools. Fortunately, schools that have a strong social media presence may make it easier for students to follow the admission process more aptly by staying on track with the dates to file specific paperwork and responding to inquiries (another example, check out MacEwan University’s Twitter). The more resources a school provides and easier access to this information, the more academic choices a student will have at the end of the day.

Learning for applicants: If you need help, most of the time you can tweet or Facebook a school’s social account and they will respond back… Most likely a lot quicker than email.

The Most Important Learning for All of Us

Stop thinking that people only use social media for connecting with friends and family. People are using it for all sorts of reasons, whether they realize it or not.

The question shouldn’t be:
What do your social media profiles say about you or company (in this case school)?

It should be:
What do your social media profiles say about your personal brand or your company’s principles and desire to serve your customers?

Stop thinking that people only use social media for connecting with friends and family. People are using it for all sorts of reasons, whether they realize it or not.


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