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Wish I had more time to address this today, but this one will have to be quick. Keep in mind most of this is supposition.
Sometime during their search, I bet students looking at colleges and universities are likely to tap into Facebook. While this is still theory, it’s supported by others such as James Howell, in his entry a few days ago.
Unfortunately, right now I don’t expect that Penn State Admissions will be headed in that direction just yet, despite the presentation I made this past spring at our Penn State Admissions conference. The basic gist of that presentation was a suggestion to use Facebook Pages rather than Groups or Profiles for an “official” presence there. The “fan of” dynamic is just easier to deal with. That aside.
So for those students who choose to take a quick peek via Facebook into the ins and outs of a university, they’ll probably breeze through the groups, maybe take a look at some interesting people.
If I were to give some advice to that student, it would be: don’t judge us by a quick run-through, by our more popular groups, or even by our more active students on Facebook, necessarily. Take a moment to search for faculty. Look through staff like advisers, if you can find them. Look through the clubs and organizations with an official presence there. And better yet, contact people. Ask the question you’ve been wanting to of that student leader, that professor whose department you’re interested in, especially if they’ve been active recently.
The head of the Undergraduate Writing Center, Jon Olson, resisted getting onto Facebook for years. The peer tutors he works with created a “Get Jon Olson on Facebook” (or some such title) group. He finally relented recently and has been posting enthusiastically since: status, photos, even video.
It’s a hurdle for faculty sometimes, but I think most of them find that it’s super easy (and maybe even fun). But it does present some interesting quandaries: do I provide advising for the student that contacts me on Facebook, or do I refer her/him to email? That sort of thing. And while they all make their own decisions on that end, I would hope they would at least answer you. So reach out.
Social networks are for interacting, after all.