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Writing my first post-a-day blog post in August on my iPhone during gaps in a Spend a Summer Day.

SASD, as we know it and love it for short, is a day-long open house event held at all Penn State campuses. At Penn State University Park, due simply to demand, it’s held on six days: every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday spanning two weeks, usually bridging July and August.

August 1st, incidentally, is also the day our new application for admission goes live. Given that and the fact that EVERYONE in the office helps during SASD (our Executive Director was running between the HUB and Schwab Auditorium on Monday trying to fix a problem), to say this time of year is stressful is an understatment.

I’ve been staffing our table at the information fair during the event pretty regularly so far, and I’ve noted a difference in style between me and some of my colleagues. Some colleagues push our brochures, despite all the information in a few of them being available online.

If I can make a generalization, these tend to be the older admissions folks who are more used to using the brochures. Others offer options: you could grab this AP brochure to see what credit you’d get for what score on which test, or you can look it up on our website. (for my own commentary, why waste the paper and cost us the money for four scores they could easily look up?)

I’ve also found that when I offer my AIM handle to students I’m talking to, they get super-enthusiastic. And even their parents start telling me I’m the last word in customer service: above and beyond and all that.

So while this doesn’t affect the larger conversation of the newest modes of electronic communication, it does tell me that some folks are picking them up no problem (students, to generalize), some folks are slowly picking them up or recognizing their value (parents), and some folks will print out webpages if the brochure is discontinued (the non-technologically-savvy).

But the thing is, we have to serve them all. Penn State is committed to serving the Commonwealth, and any one of the above could either become a student here or at least interface with the University in some way.

So how do we serve all, even those not comfortable with technology?

I think the idea of engaging the early adopters is a good one (apologies that I don’t remember who suggested it right now), and certainly paves the way to spreading the word in a grassroots fashion.

Something else I’d like to explore further, perhaps in a later post, is how technology can help us realize cost savings and green initiatives without leaving anyone behind, especially considering the widespread nature of Penn State’s mission.


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