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Press Release: Colleges and Universities using MySpace, Facebook, Blogs and Other Online Tools to Learn More about Applicants

Colleges and Universities using MySpace, Facebook, Blogs and Other Online Tools to Learn More about Applicants

Ivory Tower outpacing corporate America in use of social networking

Author:  John Hoey
Date:  September 10, 2007
Department:   Center for Marketing Research
Many colleges, accustomed to being researched by parents and prospective students via the web, are now turning the tables and using social media to learn more about their applicants, according to a new study by the UMass Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.  

The study, the third in a series of studies by the Center examining the growth of social networking in business and industry in the United States, indicates that the use of social media in the ivory tower is outpacing even the business world. Previous studies have focused on the Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 companies.

Among the findings of the study: 26 percent of the schools surveyed are using search engines to research potential students and 21 percent are using social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.

"The results are conclusive," said Center Director Nora Barnes, a professor in the UMass Dartmouth Charlton College of Business. "Social media has arrived in college admissions. The ivory tower is innovating even faster than the elite Inc. 500. While certainly the traditional factors will still play dominant roles in selecting applicants for admission or rejection, students need to understand that their social network sites are being examined by colleges and universities. The content of their sites could have far-reaching effects on their academic futures if they are not careful."

In this study, co-authored by Barnes and Eric Mattson, admission departments at 453 colleges and universities across the United States were interviewed. Researchers asked detailed questions about the institutions' familiarity with, usage of, monitoring of, and attitude towards six common forms of social media (blogs, wikis, podcasts, online video, message boards and social networking).

Among the other findings:

- The social media that was most familiar to college admissions departments is social networking with 55 percent of respondents claiming to be "very familiar with it."   

- Sixty-one percent of the respondents use at least one form of social media. Blogging is the most common form with 33 percent of admissions departments using it. Notably, this usage rate is 14% higher than that of the Inc. 500 respondents.

- The adoption of social media by admissions departments is being driven by familiarity and their recognition of the increasing role of social media in today's world. Admissions departments feel that social media is "very important" to their future strategy in almost a 2:1 ratio to Inc. 500 businesses.

Additional findings can be found at http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studies/blogstudy3.cfm.

Dr. Nora Barnes, director of the UMass Dartmouth Center For Marketing Research, can be reached at nbarnes@umassd.edu or 508.999.8756





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