Blogging – a new way to increase university admissions

While the tech blogosphere likes to think of itself as the center of the blogging world it is really just another player in the much larger world of blogs. As a way to share information and encourage people to become involved there really isn’t much at this point that can surpass what blogs can bring to the table.

Involvement is a key part of what makes blogs ideal for letting people know what is going on and this is something that colleges and universities are beginning to understand. Dozens of colleges like Amherst, Bates, Carlton, Colby, Vassar, Wellesley, Yale, and M.I.T. are embracing student blogs to the point that many of them are prominently displayed on the college, or university’s main page.

Of them all the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been a real front-runner where the blogs are posted predominately on the admissions homepage, as well as including hundreds of responses from prospective applicants – with no editing.

Not all colleges are willing to go to the extent that MIT has as they are still weight the benefits against any possible downsides. A lot of them are taking it slowly with plans to add student bloggers to pass along what student life is like on the campus.

“Blogs can certainly help humanize the process,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “The flip side is that a few anxious high school students may think and worry too much about what someone wrote on their blog, and present themselves in a slightly different way than who they really are. And there’s always the concern about the political ramifications, that bloggers may open up an issue or topic that starts something negative.”

But Mr. Lord of Haverford said prospective students’ interest in the summer bloggers calmed his worries.

“High school students read the blogs, and they come in and say ‘I can’t believe Haverford students get to do such interesting things with their summers,’ ” he said. “There’s no better way for students to learn about a college than from other students.”

Source: New York Times – M.I.T. Taking Student Blogs to Nth Degree

This year M.I.T had four open spots for student bloggers which saw 25 freshman applying for them and according to Mr. McOwen, director of communications at M.I.T.’s admissions office it was a hard choice to select the final four. While many might think that the writing will be more about the upside of university life it is not always such the case but surprisingly those in charge don’t shirk from those types of posts.

And not all posts are positive. Ms. Kim once wrote about how the resident advising system was making it impossible for her to move out of her housing — expressing enough irritation that the housing office requested that the admissions office take her post down. Officials refused, instead having the housing office post a rebuttal of her accusations; eventually, the system was changed.

A lot of the early adopters in technology and social media might like to say that blogging is old and passe in light of our current love affair with a 140 characters but the fact is that blogging is really coming into its own. When universities and colleges are able to see the upside from this kind of involvement I believe it only speaks to a long life for things like blogs.

image: Mark Wilson for The New York Times