Category Archives: Social Media

October 9, 2013

Trends in MBA Admissions

Selecting students for admission into a competitive and prestigious MBA program is no easy feat. In order to effectively evaluate applicants, the admissions offices draw upon a wide variety of data, including applications, essays, interviews, and test scores. Programs are constantly looking for ways to improve their admissions procedures by streamlining the process, vigorously screening applicants, and by searching for the subtle personality qualities that make an applicant stand out.

Trend #1: Smart Data, Smart Decision Making with AMP

  • Analyze data with data reporting tools to compare applicants.
  • AMP is a college admissions software built specifically to handle complex admissions processes. Originally developed for medical admissions, it is an extremely flexible product that can be customized for your existing processes.
  • AMP can handle complex admissions procedures such as Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI), interview scheduling, committee evaluations, and applicant screening.
  • AMP’s powerful custom reporting tool means that you’ll be able to generate statistics to better evaluate your applicants and more efficiently narrow the pool to only the most promising prospects.

Trend #2: Evaluating Ethics with Turnitin

  • is an online tool commonly used by professors to screen submitted papers for plagiarism. It has also proven useful for screening application essays in the admissions office.
  • Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal School of Business used Turnitin during the 2012-2013 admissions season and subsequently rejected 48 applicants because of plagiarism. At the UCLA Anderson School of Management, 15 applicants were rejected as a result of plagiarism.
  • Especially in an MBA program, ethical decision-making is a very important quality in a strong applicant.

Trend #3: Rethink the essay question

  • Several MBA programs are getting personal & creative when it comes to their evaluation criteria. These unorthodox methods put the applicant in an unexpected situation, catching them off guard. Then, the admissions office can better evaluate an applicant’s personality and grace under pressure.
  • At Chicago Booth’s MBA program, they allow applicants to submit a 4 slide powerpoint presentation instead of a traditional essay response.
  • Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business challenged applicants to tweet a reason why they want to attend the school’s MBA program.
  • The University of Toronto’s Rotman School has replaced a traditional written essay question with a 90-second video interview. “We wanted to know more about the personality and passions of our applicants”, explains Niki da Silva, Rotman’s Director of Admissions. “Candidates were picking out keywords from our website for their essays, and we felt that we were losing in authenticity.”

With abundant resources, here are many ways to improve the performance of your admissions office.

Has your school implemented any new evaluation methods?

September 6, 2013

Admissions Ethics & Social Media

Increasingly, admissions departments and universities are using social media to their benefit by connecting with students and becoming more accessible. A recent Chronicle article even discussed how more students are turning to social media to inform their college search. Social media is becoming an obvious means of information and collaboration within higher education and admissions. But living in the age of social media can be a detriment when the social media profile of an individual undermines the larger efforts on an organization, as in the case of Nadirah Farah Foley, a former admissions employee at the University of Pennsylvania.

Admissions Ethics and PrivacyMs. Foley lost her job at Penn soon after screenshots from her personal Facebook page were anonymously sent to the Dean of Admissions, Eric Furda, and the school newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. The screenshots showed posts in which Ms. Foley mocked prospective students. Penn has a strict policy of not making public statements on personnel issues, so officials will not comment as to whether her firing was a direct result of her Facebook posts. However, this is assumed to be the case.

In her posts, Ms. Foley shared excerpts from essays that she found amusing. For example, one post cited an essay in which a student shared his experience in overcoming a fear of (ahem) relieving himself outdoors. Another essay told of a student who had “deep” roots at Penn because he was circumcised at the campus Hillel. She also shared photos of gifts that she received from prospective students, as well as poking fun at a Midwestern student who expressed interest in Penn because of the proximity to the ocean, saying “Gotta love recruiting in Kansas!”

Although Ms. Foley seems to have been fired as a result of these posts, Penn currently does not have a written policy addressing admissions confidentiality. However, the topic is ostensibly covered in the school’s “Principles of Responsible Conduct,” under the heading “Respect for Privacy and Confidentiality.” Currently, the Office of the Provost is in the process of creating a clear policy that specifically accounts for the privacy of applicant data in admissions.

It is interesting to note that Penn has publicly shared excerpts from student essays in their own orientation activities. In 2010, current student Kai Tang was attending an accepted student’s event when the speaker shared an excerpt from his essay (and others) to playfully demonstrate the diversity of the incoming class. But the students didn’t seem to mind the breach in privacy as long as their words were painted in a positive light. “I wasn’t angry or anything, but I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” said Kai.

The ghostwriter behind the “Admissions Problems” tumblr page (the champion of higher education admissions satire) has also weighed in on the topic. While most admissions officers say that joking about applicants is common, but that those jokes should not leave the admissions department, the voice of “Admissions Problems” defends Ms. Foley’s right to post whatever she pleases on her private profile page. Indeed, she defends the right of admissions officers to say whatever they please to whomever they please, whenever they please;

Isn’t it a little ridiculous to think we can sit around and giggle at those silly things internally, but people outside of admission offices can’t be privy to those laughable moments? How elitist you sound. What if we went home and shared stories with our spouses? Unethical? What if our spouses tweeted about it? Really unethical?

An admissions officer from Penn has anonymously admitted to submitting content to the blog. But I have to point out that there is a very clear distinction between what the tumblr page does and what Ms. Foley did. The Tumblr page is painstakingly anonymous; contributors do not identify themselves, schools are never named, and students are never named. All contributors, schools, and students are protected by a veil of anonymity.

The major concern in Ms. Foley’s case is that she is a direct representative of the University of Pennsylvania. By posting applicant information and making fun of prospective students, she has brought bad press to her employer and jeopardized the reputation of their admissions department. Ms. Foley posted this information on a page under her own name. Some may argue – “But her Facebook settings were private!” To which I would say; “Don’t be naive.” Although her settings are “private,” it should be assumed that anything shared online under your name can easily be made public.

In short, this is simply a case of poor judgment and bad business sense. People in any profession can learn from Ms. Foley’s mistake. Joking about your workplace anonymously, with friends, or with co-workers is one thing – but putting it in writing? Online? Under your name? Where anyone could snap a screenshot and get you fired? That’s just silly. Like my dad always says - “Think before you act.”

March 14, 2013

Social Media in Higher Education: Teach what you Preach

In the past several years, colleges and universities have almost universally accepted the importance of social media. Increasingly, schools are actively using social media outlets to recruit prospective students, maintain relationships with current students, and build their brand identity. The administration “gets” social media, but does the curriculum reflect this cultural shift?

As of 2011, a whopping 98% of schools had a dedicated Facebook page, with many also owning accounts on YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social media sites. According to a Zinch survey, a majority of prospective students are using social media to research their schools of choice – 70% of prospective students go to Facebook, 40% look at Twitter, and 20% browse YouTube. Gil Rogers, director of College Outreach for Zinch, suggests that universities should be aware of these findings and reevaluate their social media strategy. “While it might be free to create accounts on these new, popular social media sites, universities should focus recruitment efforts on where they’re going to get the highest return on investment,” Rogers said.

When utilizing social media, schools need to focus on engaging with students. Simply creating a Facebook page isn’t enough; there needs to be a human behind the page to maintain the page, answer questions, give advice, and offer means of connecting with other students and the campus as a whole. Guest postings from financial aid officers, admissions representatives, and professors are ways to offer credibility and variety to social media efforts. Efforts to humanize the ivory tower are paying off for many schools.

Dr. James Nolan of Southwestern University can personally vouch for the positive results of an engaging social media campaign; “With social media as an enormous powerful ally, we broke all enrollment records this past year, for each quarter, and overall, and our credit hour production was great as well. (That record will be broken next year. I can see that already…) Prospective students now show up routinely, saying “I feel like I know you guys already from your videos and blogs and Facebook page … I’ve been following you for months…” It is gratifying, and it is good business, and it is authentic.”

So, it is clear that the admissions and marketing departments of schools understand that social media is now a necessary part of doing business; but does marketing and business curricula reflect the change? For the most part, no. “Overall, the higher education system is failing to prepare students with the needed digital and social skill set in any meaningful way,” says Dr. William Ward of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.  ”Higher education, like business, needs a culture shift.”

Dr. Ward teaches social media courses at Syracuse University and approaches the subject methodically to show that social media, like other marketing efforts, can be applied in a business setting in a results-driven, goal-oriented, and measurable manner. His approach to social media education prepares graduates for the growing demand for media-competent employees. Of 2,100 companies  surveyed by Harvard Business Review, only 12% of those using social media felt they were using it effectively. Schools with a solid social media curriculum are uniquely positioned to attract students looking for a degree in a field that is in hot demand. “Learning how to use social media smartly gives employers a reason to hire,” Ward says. “Helping individuals and organizations harness digital and social communication to their advantage will become one of the fastest growth segments.”

Syracuse University and Dr. Ward are on the cutting edge of preparing students for lucrative and in-demand jobs, and many other schools are following their lead. Harvard, NYU, and Columbia (among others) have already added social media classes to their offerings. In the near future, businesses (and schools!) will no longer use trial and error in their social media campaign. Soon, there will be a new class of professionals manning the computers behind corporate social media accounts. It will be interesting to see the evolution of social media’s place in the higher education classroom; maybe we will soon see BA’s in social media alongside majors such as marketing, advertising, and business development.

How does your admissions office utilize social media? Has your school added any courses on the subject?

February 19, 2013

Tumblr for Universities

More and more colleges are turning to Tumblr as another source of social media to use, in efforts to engage with current and prospective students. Why Tumblr?

TumblrTumblr is a both a blogging platform and a social media network, that currently has an outstanding 93.9 million blogs and 43.2 billion posts since it was founded in February of 2007. Tumblr allows members to effortlessly share anything, including videos, quotes, pictures, links, etc. Tumblr can be a useful outlet for universities, as Emmanuel from Yale University discusses in his Higher Ed Social Media Tumblr. Emmanuel lists universities that utilize Tumblr and plans to discuss techniques on how his fellow universities can better apply content and media to their Tumblr blog.

“It’s all about taking the pulse of what our community is thinking about or talking about,” Ma’ayan Plaut, the social media coordinator for Oberlin College, says. “I can showcase what’s happening here [Tumblr] way better than I can do in other places.”

Useful Features of Tumblr for Universities:

1. Customize your University Tumblr: There are many ways that your university can customize a Tumblr page so that it is easily associated and branded to your university.

    • Theme – There is a wide variety of themes that are available for universities to use to customize their blog. If the university has someone in the office familiar with HTML, there is the ability to access the code and make any specific, unique changes.
    • Domain – There is also the option to use your own domain name, so that the blog can be quickly recognized as your university’s blog page.
    • Pages – There is the ability to create specific pages within the Tumblr, so that you can have a more developed blog, with an About or Contact Us page. This is an opportunity to give background information on your university to help users understand the meaning or idea behind your posts, whether they are for engagement, support-related, informational, etc.

2. The Ask Box: The Ask/Q&A feature is a way for members to anonymously ask other user’s questions, which admissions officers believe is a crucial feature for encouraging interaction and engagement. Even though most universities don’t consider social media when evaluating applicants, students feel more comfortable getting in touch with admissions when they don’t have to worry about who is responding.

3. Tracking tags: Tracking tags is one of Tumblr’s most valuable features. Directly from Tumblr’s help page, here is some helpful information on what tracked tags are and how to utilize them for your university.

Tracked tags are a great way to follow certain topics on Tumblr. You can access your tracked tags by clicking the “Search tags” box at the top of your Dashboard. New posts will be reflected in the number below the tag name. Hit the tab key and your tracked tags will pop open in a menu on your Dashboard.

Universities can use tracked tags to search for specific pictures and posts that other bloggers post about their university.

How do I track a tag?

    • Enter the tag in the “Search tags” box at the top of your Dashboard.
    • Hit enter.
    • Click “track” in the search box.

How do I stop tracking a tag?

    • Click the “Search tags” box at the top of your Dashboard.
    • Click the name of the tag.
    • Roll over “tracking” and click “untrack.”

4. Social Media Integration: If your university has other sources of social media accounts, the Tumblr blog can seamlessly integrate with Facebook and Twitter accounts. Once a blog post is published on Tumblr, you can automatically publish it to your university’s Twitter or Facebook profile.

There are many ways that universities can customize their Tumblr page and utilize it to create an effective social media strategy for their school. Does your university use Tumblr or another type of blogging platform?

September 25, 2012

Taking Social Media to the Next Level

In a survey conducted by The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research, researchers found that 100% of Colleges and Universities are now utilizing social media. Now that everyone has recognized the importance of social media, the question becomes: How will your school’s social media efforts rise above the noise of the crowd?

So, how can your school distinguish itself and take social media to the next level? The answer may not be as complicated as it seems. To answer this question, we looked to the Top 100 Social Media Colleges list.

Harvard topped the list with their All Harvard Social Media page. Using a dashboard-style layout, you get a quick, easy-to-swallow overview of what’s happening with featured tweets, Facebook “likes,” and YouTube videos. Because it is featured in the footer, this social media dashboard is easily accessible from any page in the site. My favorite feature? A menu to organizes all Harvard-affiliated social media profiles in one elegant, easily to navigate location.

Harvard Social Media Directory
The University of Oregon has taken full advantage of Foursquare’s features by creating a robust profile with helpful descriptions of campus landmarks. No time to take a tour? No problem! You can guide yourself through the campus with the help of a smartphone.University of Oregon Foursquare

And, last but not least, Emerson University has done a great job in promoting social media both for the university and in the classroom. Each semester, Emerson’s social media class targets a well-known person who would be impossible to contact via traditional means, and then use Twitter to communicate with them directly. Their Fall 2011 efforts were very successful, and they had the opportunity to have a social media Q&A session with athlete Chad Johnson (formerly known as Chad Ochocinco) and his ex-wife, star of “Basketball Wives,” Evelyn Lozada.

Emerson Students meet Chad Johnson

September 10, 2012

Using Instagram in Admissions

instagramIt is probably the last thing you want to hear, but there is yet another social media tool that your school and the admissions office could be using – Instagram!

Instagram is a cool, quirky picture tool that allows users to take professional photos instantly by adding filters and effects to images. Instagram can be used on the iPhone or Android, which currently dominates 82% of the Smartphone user population according to comScore’s April 2012 report.  Users have the option to share these photos with other social networks and friends.

So, how could you use Instagram to promote admissions? We have some ideas for you to try!

  • Get prospective students involved! Promote a hashtag for photographs taken while on tour (i.e. #yaletour2012) – You, your prospective students, and any other instagram users will be able to view the photos under your chosen hashtag.
  • Reward prospective students and tour attendees for following your instagram account and other social media outlets with coupons to the bookstore.
  • Cross-promote instagram photos and hashtags by sharing them on your school’s other social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Use instagram as a promotional tool! Challenge newly accepted students to take photos under a dedicated hashtag (i.e. #pittbeautifulcampus) – Then reward the best photographer with bookstore goodies or by featuring their instagram photo in university advertising and promotions.

Do you have ideas for using Instagram as an admissions tool? Share it with us in the comments!

August 31, 2012

Admissions Problems Tumblr : Entertainment or Bad Ethics?

Fall semester is upon us, which means that your admissions department can breathe a sigh of relief… for about 2 hours. So, we invite you to take a little break from your workload for a laugh or two!

We want to share with you an interesting, relatively new Tumblr page – Admissions Problems. These anonymous admissions employees have been sharing their battle stories since May of 2012. One of our favorite posts:


Johnny Carson Admissions GIF

This tumblr is as controversial as it is hilarious. Most posts poke fun at the everyday situations that arise in an admissions office and on the road, but some posts have drawn ire and criticism from the admissions community.

The most incendiary posts have included excerpts from actual admissions essays, poking fun at the poor writing skills and topic choices. A recent post bashed a student’s essay on the topic of racism, citing it for lack of professionalism and factual evidence.

Are the posted essays hilariously ridiculous, offering value to a satirical blog? Yes. But this raises the issue of ethics; is it OK to use student essays, emails, and Facebook comments as comedic fodder on a public forum? Many higher education employees would respond with an emphatic “NO,” and I tend to agree.

As of now, the admissions employees who submit student’s essays to the site are protected by anonymity. The administrators of “Admissions Problems” have enthusiastically defended their right to post whatever they please, stating…

You may not like this blog. You don’t have to read it…But here’s the equation that leaves us confused:

You judge us publicly for judging others publicly.

Hmmm. We think we’ve written about this before. It’s called hypocrisy… Surely you don’t think we’re the first to explore the concept of exploiting stupidity for humor and satire? We’d be flattered!

What are your thoughts on the Admissions Problems Tumblr?

August 8, 2012

YouTube and Admissions

“More than 400 universities across the United States and Canada already have a presence on YouTube, with sample lectures, student speakers and campus tours posted on their personalized channels,” says YouTube representative Annie Baxter to NY Times’ The Choice Blog.

There are many admissions offices that try to entice prospective students to apply to their school through their YouTube videos. “Topping the list of most effective tools for recruiting undergraduates were Facebook and YouTube, at 94 percent and 84 percent, respectively,” quotes a Campus Technology article. Regarding that statistic, schools have created various types of videos serving different purposes in their recruiting efforts.


Informational videos usually consist of Q&A sessions, whether it is a current student discussing dilemmas they face throughout college, fellow alumni going over their steps and successes, or even one of the admission officers reiterating important application and admissions information. Showing off different parts of campus to give the student a better feel of the culture and area is another way to create a useful video for the applicants. The video shown above is from Dartmouth’s admissions office.


College raps are becoming increasingly popular from schools, particularly the admissions departments, where they involve current  students to help with the recruit of their school in a fun, social way. Above is a rap from the University of Rochester, entitled ‘Remember oUR Name’.


There are also plenty of videos on school’s YouTube channels involving students sending admissions offices their videos in a pursuit to get an interview or acceptance into the particular school. Many students have opened up in this unique way to hopefully win the admissions committee’s hearts over. Above is a video with a selection of different applicant videos.

How do you increase recruiting from your admissions office using YouTube?

July 12, 2012

Michigan Applicant Sings His Way Off Waitlist

Do you think you could sing your way off the college wait list? See how this teen creates a YouTube video cover to ‘I Want You Back’ by The Jackson 5.  This stunt helps get him accepted into The Ross School of Business.

Have you witnessed any other crazy ways for applicants to get accepted into your school? Share in the comments section below!

May 8, 2012

Social Media in International Admissions

According to Martin Bennett from EducationUSA, he states that to be successful in admissions you must ‘live where your audiences live’.  The audiences of admissions are students that ‘live’ predominantly on social media channels, like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  For admissions professionals to engage more international students into their universities, the school must become creative and open with social media. Just last month, there was an article in The Chronicle about the new twists in online recruiting international applicants.

Madan Padaki, the CEO of Erudient, states, “Facebook is an ideal place to foster interaction, but universities are not doing it.”

There is no easy way for international students to visit campuses, which is why students rely on social media and virtual tours to convince them to go to a particular school.  Some high school students in the United States visit well over twenty or thirty different schools, and will rely heavily on those visits to determine whether they want to go there for the next few years of their life.  International students, on the other hand, do not have that opportunity, especially if they have a limited budget. Social media in admissions is a way for international applicants to view real photos and videos from the school, along with interacting with other applicants.  This is a chance for them to meet, engage, and question students as well as the admissions office.

Social media can work fast and effectively when it is used correctly.  Facebook applications are another excellent way for a school to connect with prospective students.  Comparative to other marketing mediums, social media is minimal in cost.  Out of the 1.362 billion people that have internet access, fifty-five percent of them have Facebook that they check at least once a month. Another reason why your school should target international applicants through social media is because sixty percent of your audience is in the college-age demographic with a Facebook presence, according to .eduGuru.  It is an easy way to target specific sets of applicants, and offer a variety of resources for them.

Social media doesn’t have to just be about Facebook and Twitter.  Your school’s admissions office could also consider creating a blog, where members of your office could write about specific topics.  For instance, have one of your admissions staff write specifically about topics of interest and tips that will benefit the international applicant, so that the applicant can have a better understanding about the process.

Do you have any interesting ways to engage international applicants using social media?