Colleges across the country are beginning to embrace student blogs on their official websites as a marketing tool to help attract high school students – who are more interested in student’s perspectives than in official marketing materials.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) uncensored student blogs are prominently displayed on the school’s admissions homepage along with the responses from potential applicants. M.I.T. pays their student bloggers $10 an hour for up to four hours a week, to write about whatever they think will interest teens considering the school.
Many schools still hesitate to allow unfettered student bloggers, but that attitude is changing. “A lot of people in admissions have not been eager for bloggers, mostly based on fears that we can’t control what people are saying,” said Jess Lord, dean of admissions at Haverford College in an interview with the New York Times. “We’re learning, slowly, that this is how the world works, especially for high school students.”
High schools students typically are avid bloggers and social networkers themselves, so it is natural for them to check out schools by following the blogs of students at colleges they are interested in to better understand the culture and connect with existing students and other applicants.
We have long warned students to be careful what they post on their social networking sites as prospective colleges and employers will be watching. That advice is now a two way street. Colleges beware; the days of glossy marketing materials may be numbered.