In the age of texts, tweets, posts, profiles and views, it can be easy to feel lost in the online world. However, for high school students, these terms fit easily into their vocabulary, causing colleges and universities to re-think their marketing strategies.
At SUNY Fredonia, the college is committed to providing information to potential students both online and through its website.
According to Michael Barone, director of public relations at SUNY Fredonia, feedback and studies have shown that print still has a place in marketing. He said that while many high school students are heavily dependent on their smartphones, their parents are still very involved with the college decision-making process.
"We need to communicate through a variety of means," Barone said.
The majority of students apply to SUNY Fredonia through an online application rather than a hard copy, according to Barone. However, there are a variety of ways to apply online, including the school's website, the SUNY website, or the Common App.
Common App is a free online undergraduate application that is used by over 400 colleges and universities, including SUNY Fredonia. The website, which may be found at commonapp.org, also offers links to college and university websites, as well as a variety of other information about each school.
"It allows students to apply through a single application to multiple schools," Barone said, noting that it offers potential students cost savings and better time efficiency as well.
Aside from offering online applications as an easy way to apply, many school are also offering virtual tours on their websites, offering views of everything from buildings to dorms to student life, as well as pictures, videos and student commentary.
While students may easily search for virtual tours through the websites of the schools that they are interested in, they may also find campustours.com to be a resource. The Campus Tours website offers a variety of search options to find schools, offers links to their online tours, websites, and maps, and also offers general information about each school.
However, while taking a virtual tour of websites may help students and their parents to get an idea of what the school is like, Barone warns that this is not enough.
"You just can't represent what life will be like unless you're here taking in all of the sights, all of the smells, the sounds," Barone said.
He said that the staff at SUNY Fredonia focuses on what they feel is most important to students and their families, and that they are able to emphasize this on tours. According to Barone, SUNY Fredonia offers a sense of welcoming and community that people find once they are on a physical tour of the campus.
Colleges and universities are also emerging in social media. SUNY Fredonia offers many networking opportunities with students, through Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube accounts.
Currently, there are over 800 million active Facebook users, according to their website, with more than half of those users logging into their accounts on any given day.
According to the Kaplan Test Prep's 2011 survey of college admissions officers, nearly a quarter of respondents from the schools surveyed had gone to an applicant's Facebook or other social networking page to learn more about them. Of these, 12 percent said that what they found negatively impacted the admissions chances. Offenses cited included essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, alcohol consumption in photos and "illegal activities."
Kaplan's Test Prep's survey also found that Facebook and YouTube are increasingly important recruiting tools for colleges - 85 percent use Facebook, and 66 percent use YouTube to engage prospective students.
Barone said that beyond traditional advertising to get people to be aware of the school as a brand, SUNY Fredonia has found that social networking is a way to connect with students before they even arrive at the college. He said that staff at Fredonia are constantly monitoring social media, fielding questions, correcting misinformation, and providing answers to potential and current students.
Once students have been accepted to SUNY Fredonia, Barone said that there are other social media options for them as well, such as a Facebook page for an incoming freshman class, which provides the opportunity for students to meet friends before walking through the door of the campus.
"It allows things to happen so much more quickly across the board, from student life issues, to business processes, whatever it may be," Barone said.
While using social media and college websites may be useful for high school students who are constantly connected, Barone warns that they should not rely on it too much.
"It's valuable, certainly. It can help students get a taste for a place, and answer questions, but from there, there are so many other factors that go into choosing a college," Barone said, adding that students should always travel to visit potential schools and try them on for size.