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Giving You a Good Reason Why: Admissions and Social Media

Posted by on Friday, November 18, 2011 in Admissions Committee, Application Process, Social Media in Higher Education, Vanderbilt Blogs.

Believe it or not, it was only a few years ago that social media outreach was seen by most universities as a luxury, a “nice to have” that could be taken or left without anyone losing sleep. More than that, I’m sure many leaders in academia expressed fear over the concept of opening a dialogue with their prospective students. Seems like ages ago, right?

These days we expect to see Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and foursquare, among others, somehow affiliated with nearly everything we encounter in our lives, universities included. And for good reason: The advent of social media has shifted the “conversation” from being one-directional to, well, actually being conversational. You have a voice and, when institutions are listening (which, if they’re using “social” media correctly, they should be), it carries tremendous weight.

At Vanderbilt, we’re proud to have been early adopters of these tools. They are key to how the university communicates and they provide amazing opportunities for listening, which is precisely the reason they were integrated into the university’s approach. And that thinking is being applied to our communications at the admissions level.

Indeed, we’re in the throes of defining for ourselves how we can best and most responsibly embrace social media to engage students and parents in what can seem like a daunting process. It’s an endeavor we don’t take lightly, though undoubtedly, the content we’ll develop for these channels will more often than not be light-hearted.

The thing is, we don’t want you to “like” us without cause. We don’t want to launch into social media simply because it’s the thing to do. We want to provide value to you.

Which is why, in the spirit of creating content that is social, we’d like to open up our comments section to your ideas. Tell us what type of content matters most to you and how we can best serve you over the social web. Talk to us about what you hope to gain from “liking” or “following” an admissions office: A better sense of “fit”? Student and academic life? What makes us different? The best place to see an indie show in Nashville? What neighborhood boasts the best coffee or late-night eats? You have more access now to admissions offices than most in our office ever did. Help us make it worth your while.

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  • Deanna Galer

    November 27th, 2011

    I feel as though social media has created for us a virtual world to share, explore, and “like” the things we feel are important.  As a high school junior, beginning the college search is extremely intimidating.  Having Vanderbilt in the worlds I use every day such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube has opened up a familiarity that I didn’t have before.  Knowing that the information I need on the ways of life in Nashville is extremely important to me because I need to know that I find the right fit.  As I grab a bite to eat in Michigan, I would find comfort in a tweet from VU telling me the eateries with the best bite for my buck.  Knowing the simple joys of life in Tennessee like the weather or the great campus events would prepare me for making that big decision and set me up for success in the fall of 2013.

    I thank you, Vandy, for the strides you are taking to make your campus radiate the feeling of “home” as I make my way through the college search.  I ask that you continue to use social media to share those things that cannot go on a college profile, the things my parents may not be concerned with, but those which mean the world to me: the reasons why Nashville, the Vanderbilt campus specifically, should be my home.

  • Ryan Burleson

    November 28th, 2011

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, Deanna. This is exactly the kind of feedback we’re looking for and we look forward to bringing your ideas into our thinking on this topic.

    Until we get up and running, I would encourage you to read our student-written blog (Inside ‘Dores) for some great insight on these questions: And always feel free to email any of our bloggers or Tour Guides – – with any questions you have about life at Vanderbilt. Thanks again!

  • Sam Rose

    November 28th, 2011

    I’ve been watching Social Media and have many of the same questions. What should I post? Why would anyone want to follow me? A little over a year ago I built an eCommerce website for a friend and have been trying to help her understand what she might post to bring more people to the site. Certainly what I post and what she posts are different from each other and from what Vandy Admissions would post. It really seems to take awhile to sort it out. 

    It’s interesting that you ask this question from an Admissions standpoint asking us what we might want to see. First, this post is probably a good example of what to post. Something that might engage the students. Clever. I also find it interesting because not too long ago I ran across a new tool called and decided that I could follow different college Admissions offices to just see what they post and maybe learn some little tip to help me get accepted at one of the better colleges. So using the tool I created a newspaper and called it and it’s still up and running. It might actually be an interesting way for you to follow the Tweets of different schools all in one easy to read place. 

    Other than that I’m still not sure of the real value of the paper is to anyone but me, but I can say that what a school posts in some way brands them in a not so obvious way. I do get alot of @mentions . I can say that one post doesn’t seem to do much, but over time I do get a sense of at least someones tone of what the school is about. I guess the question might be, is it accurate?

  • Ryan Burleson

    November 29th, 2011

    Thanks for your thoughts, Sam! It’s great that you’ve taken the initiative with to track higher ed conversations. And I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on value and tone in social media; it all makes a difference no matter how insignificant tweets and status updates can seem sometimes.

  • Mdunn47

    November 30th, 2011

    While browsing the college web page I came across the
    Twitter and Facebook add for VU. I found it to be a very unique feature but
    also ironic considering the fact that those two pages were already opened on my
    computer screen. Vanderbilt has taken on the one thing that pretty much
    everyone is or can become compatible with. Anyone and everyone will use the
    internet and or social web as a means of expressing themselves in some way,
    shape, or form. The beauty of it is that it is solely up to the user to decide
    what he or she wants to do with this power that they have on the web. Some
    choose to do homework, others prefer to play poker, and then there are some who
    enjoy skyping or chatting face to face via web. This proves that without a
    question, Vanderbilt’s social networking online is there for anybody who is
    interested and wants more information or advice. For those who do not care,
    they do not have to care, but for those that do, exploring the life of
    Vanderbilt from the comfort one’s home is a pivotal shift in technology for the

  • Ryan Burleson

    November 30th, 2011

    Thanks very much for your feedback.

  • Deanna Galer

    December 1st, 2011

    I have previously expressed my view of what Vanderbilt may want to share to benefit prospective students and I thought I could add another thought that came to mind.  I have been following VU on Twitter for less than a week and I am already acclimated with some of the campus happenings.  Additionally, I think it would be a good idea to post/blog/comment/tweet/chat about the success of Vanderbilt undergrad students because this would provide outsiders with a sense of what is capable at VU as well as help us to decide if the programs are compatible with the field of study we are looking in to.

  • Ryan Burleson

    December 2nd, 2011

    Thanks again, Deanna. We appreciate you following up.