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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Social media tools helping colleges make connections | Megan Anderle,

From my own experience, I think the growth in use and availability of social media is  the most significant development in communications in decades. And that's just based on its impact on me.

People are making connections with each other using social media that were never even possible just a few years ago. We can look around the world--especially at the movement toward more democracy in the Middle East--for significant examples.

But back at home, in northern New Jersey (and certainly other places), social media are also having an impact on such seemingly mundane things as introducing incoming students to college life.

Anderle begins her story this way:
When Facebook and Twitter started gaining momentum a few years ago, admissions offices at North Jersey colleges were not quite sure what to do. Now, schools are communicating in ways they never thought possible, and some say the phenomenon is responsible for easing the transition from high school to college. 
According to Elyse Toribio, a peer facilitator at Ramapo College of New Jersey:
Connecting with people from the college before they even get there helps them build a sense of belonging. Incoming college freshmen are more inclined to ask a question on social media they would otherwise be too shy to ask an administrator verbally.
Says Patrick Chang, associate vice president of student affairs at Ramapo:
Colleges are realizing that it's important that they don't just stay on one platform but instead that they're looking for what the next big thing is. For that reason, more and more colleges are hiring people who focus solely on social media.
Says Jordanna Suriani, an admissions counselor at Ramapo who handles social media:

A high school senior who wants to be a psychology major can ask a question, and one of our ambassadors in the office who's a psychology major might answer it, and that mentoring relationship doesn't stop when they get here in the fall.

And says Anthony Jordan, a Ramapo freshman:
I use it to find out about events, classes, assignments and information about the school. It has definitely made me feel more connected.
This article focuses a target audience at one college. The potential is endless for many other uses that, I believe, will mostly be positive.

Still, I do wonder: What might be the downsides if we're not careful? 

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