How to Evaluate a Prospective College Through Its Social Media
Guest Post from educations.com.
It can be difficult to evaluate whether or not a college is right for you, especially if you can’t do an in-person visit . Especially if you’re applying to a lot of colleges that are scattered around the country, it can be almost impossible, both logistically and financially, to visit all of them in-person.
(If you can visit, though, check out our guide to campus visits!)
Luckily, most universities post tons of information on social media that can give you insights into the school’s culture. And, according to an educations.com survey of over 20,000 students worldwide, this info really matters. For example, the survey found that students scoured social media in deciding which university to study abroad at, with YouTube being the most important. The survey also showed that students used a lot of material at their disposal to make these decisions—with photos, videos, infographics, and the school’s website being among the most influential.
So with all of the information out there, how do you evaluate it? How can you decide if a school is right for you? Read on for tips on how to evaluate a college’s culture through social media!
Determine a school’s priorities
Of course, university social media is specifically curated by a team of people who are paid to make the school look good—but a school’s official Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can provide important clues as to what the school is prioritizing. Does the school often post about the research its faculty is publishing? What about highlighting famous alumni? Or are they posting about student organizations and local events? Such information can give you insight into what the school is funneling money into: undergraduates, faculty research, new buildings, arts on campus, or sports teams, for example.
Evaluate university tone
Some universities will have a light, fun tone while others will sound more traditional and dry—neither is better than the other, but the university’s marketing team is likely trying to project a certain image to the public, and that image can tell you something about what it might be like to go there. Go to the university’s YouTube channel and watch a few videos. Is the tone fun and young, artistic and elegant, or stiff and conservative?
…And then evaluate student social media
Some of the most interesting insights can come from comparing university social media with the social media of its students. Here, you’ll have to do a bit of sleuthing. On Instagram, take a look at the pictures that the university has been tagged in by users, or search images by location. Are there a ton of pictures of students at sports games? Partying? In the library? Keep in mind that one picture by one student won’t give you an accurate depiction of university life—but if you see trends emerge after looking at a lot of photos, you may have an idea of what student life is like. Are students boasting about their university? Does an Instagram search pull up thousands of photos of students at a football game? Or, are students not really posting about the school? Ask yourself, could you see yourself there?
Reach out via social media
Another way you can see what a university is like is to reach out to them via social media. If you have a legitimate question about something, tweet at them or message them on Facebook and see how they respond. Are they quick-to-reply and helpful? Or are they stiff and just refer you to the college website? Or are you ignored altogether? This information might also be helpful to you in determining how seriously the college is taking admissions.
Of course, it’s hard to replace the feeling of walking around a college campus and truly getting a sense of the vibe—but in lieu of that, or in tandem with those visits, doing a little research on a university’s social media can provide valuable information to better help you make these decisions!