April 4, 2013
If you ask me, Twitter is one of the best things that has ever happened to the world. It’s a powerful connective force with enough power to do some good work anywhere, including college admissions by helping give students more points of view of the Hill and, more importantly, a realistic view of the Hill, not a carefully selected one.
So, with Accepted Students Day coming up and the Hamilton Scroll (which collects all the mentions of Hamilton on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram and posts them together) now up and running, prospective students have better information to work with than ever before.
First, when it comes to college admissions, most of the images students see of their prospective school just seem to be a bunch of glossy catalogues and pretty slideshows of kids playing frisbees in a quad or looking through microscopes in a lab. What you see is a very limited, selective view of each college.
Now with social media students get the chance to see college from a lot more points of view. They can follow professors like Professor Klinkner (@pklinkne), organizations like HamGives (@hamgives) or Student Assembly (@HCStudentReps), buildings like KJ (@KirnerJohnson) and, of course, an endless number of students. Once you find one Hamilton twitter, you can follow the replies to see Hamilton through whatever lens you want to see it, not just a photographer’s. Social media gives prospective students more information, opinions and insight to life on the Hill than the traditional letters mailed home ever will.
Also, on a purely practical level, social media is just a necessity. In this day and age relying on email and snail mail is at best a naive strategy for drawing in new students and at worst a recipe for obsolescence. In a world where there’s a new social media app being created every six months, (I’m looking at you Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat) in order to keep up with students, it’s imperative for colleges to become more digital. Admission’s online presence (@HamiltonAdmssn and @hamiltondean) allows for modern advantages that traditional methods of contact don’t.
Now, admission deans can connect to students in moments instead of days. All a prospective student has to do is hit reply, and in moments someone can answer them. For example, they could ask: What time is a tour? Where do you go for junior preview day? How many required classes are there? Emails can get lost and trashed, but tweets take 10 seconds to send and instantly connect a student with someone at Hamilton. Those replies help develop a relationship instantly. Going online makes Hamilton seem cool and modern.
Kids today might not know how to address an envelope, but they know exactly what Instagram filter to use. Email may be just as immediate, but what do high schoolers do more: check their e-mail or check their twitter? To keep up and connect with the prospective students, Hamilton has to move online. It’s just savvy business strategy.
Finally, in a less tangible sense, social media just feels more authentic to me. My sister is a senior in high school right now, and while I still get swept up in the standard pretty buildings and laughing students on the websites, at the end of the day all of her brochures look the same. There’s no unique feeling to any of them—there’s no personality.
For me, tweets, Instagrams, blogs and Facebook statuses help bring life to the buildings and voices of the students. Even mundane aspects of Hamilton like Bon Appetit’s food get made into hysterical riffs for students to read about. And I know for me, I don’t just tweet great one-liners about student to teacher ratios and writing intensives.
I can cover everything from the annoying snow, the boring days of class, or even the bizarre Bundy parties. Social media isn’t just another excuse to be hokey and phony. By following Hamiltonians, students can help turn the homogenous brochures into real life campuses and give prospies not only more points of view, but real points of view. Social media can help pull students to Hamilton, and not just by showing freeze frames of unrealistically sunny days.
The problem I imagine some people will have with Admission going digital is that doubters may believe it will just be a further expansion of what they think is “false advertising.” Even The Spectator’s Editorial Board wrote a critical piece on the misleading nature of Accepted Students Day last year. (For the record, as a tour guide, I was offended by the notion that I lie for money; I don’t get paid nearly enough to do that.)
While Admission can write the brochures and train the tour guides, they get no control over the Internet. What gets written there is completely out of their hands. I imagine if they had it their way, Hamilton Problems (@hamiltonprblems) probably wouldn’t exist—but it does. Social media is a chance for the doubters to take back the public image into their own hands. While I’m not suggesting it turn the Internet into a force to combat Admission, I am encouraging everyone to get online and help create the Hamilton you think really exists.
Bad professor? Crappy food? Tweet it, post it, even take a picture of it. For the doubters, social media is a haven for change. So if you’re someone who thinks Admission is too glossy, share your thoughts on the Internet, hell, maybe you’ll even #getscrolled.