When evaluating prospective colleges, some of them are impossible to visit in-person due to the logistics and financial implications. Fortunately, universities post plenty of information on social media that can give you an insight into the culture of a college and help you to make your decision.
You won’t be alone in using social media channels to make your choice because 83% of students are doing so today. With all the information available, how do you evaluate it and decide if a particular institution is right for you? Here are some questions to ask to help you make a well-informed decision.
What are the college’s priorities?
The college’s official social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can provide some clues about what it prioritizes. You do need to take into account that this information is posted by the college social media team to give the best impression, but it can still offer some helpful information.
Following online accounts dedicated to science, humanities, or arts programs can help to give you an idea of the academic culture of the college. Are there posts referring to research being published? Creating a LinkedIn profile can help you to find out more about the career-oriented side.
Try to find out from the official website where the priorities seem to be when it comes to allocation of funds, whether this is on new buildings, undergraduates, research, sports teams, arts on campus, etc.
What tone does the college project?
All colleges project a different tone, from more formal and traditional to more casual and light. Going to the school’s YouTube channel and watching some videos can be revealing. It will give you a good idea of what to expect – more conservative, artsy, or fun and young.
You want to get a feel for the college experience beyond just what degrees and accommodation it offers. Watching videos helps you to understand more about how it feels to study and live in a place, and gives a sense of the type of community and social life to expect.
What do current students say?
Some universities provide hashtags for students to use. At Oxford University, for example, students tweet about their university life at #oxtweets. School-specific hashtags give you information on student societies, community involvement, sports and much more.
As a prospective student, it can be very helpful to get an unofficial view of a college through the eyes of current students that you won’t find on an official college web page. It is not as easy, but there are ways to find social media accounts of students.
Take a look on Instagram at pictures the school has been tagged in by users. You can also search for images by location. Through geotagging, you can access pictures taken on campus and connect with students. It’s rather like having a tour done by a student who doesn’t have to tell you what the admission office wants you to hear.
Remember that you have to look at a variety of photos to get an accurate picture of student life. If hundreds of photos appear to be of football games, you can bet that sports are important.
You should be able to see certain trends emerge when you look at many photos and this can give you a better idea of whether you could see yourself at a college.
Students may post about the training and the teachers at the college. You may even find resources you can use in the future. For instance, a student may advise other students to pay for a research paper at EduBirdie under certain circumstances. It could also be college essays, thesis or dissertation work.
What response do you get when you reach out via social media?
As you research colleges, social media offers a constructive way to connect with members of an institution and even create a dialogue with them that could influence your choice.
Twitter can provide a great source of information and a way to ask current students and university staff some pertinent questions. Are they quick to respond and helpful? Do they just refer you to the university website, or are they genuinely helpful? Are you ignored altogether?
You will quickly find out how seriously a university wants admissions. If your attempts at engagement are ignored, consider it a red flag.
Are the social media accounts verified?
You can’t simply view all online communications as reliable and trustworthy. It is possible to be fooled by fake universities and fake degrees that could influence your decisions.
Verified college social media accounts are usually found on the college web pages, together with the most up-to-date and accurate information about information regarding courses and tuition fees. If an entity lacks a social media presence or is difficult to find, consider this another red flag.
A final word
Going to university is often one of the most exciting experiences of your life. You want to make sure you make a well-informed decision about where to go and doing some research on social media can help you to do so.
Social media has transformed the college application process and you need to take full advantage of this trend. It can offer you an honest perspective that proves invaluable for your future education and your career. Asking the above five questions will help you to evaluate the information and make that all-important decision wisely.