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Friday, January 22, 2010


What makes a college or university so appealing? Some might say how many times a school’s basketball team makes it to the Final Four. Others may argue that an astounding reputation in academics or having parents with alumni status is the most important factor when choosing the right school. Heck, some might just go wherever is close and affordable. However, for the average person, choosing a college can be rigorous and tiresome. With so many choices, in all different types of locations, at a wide variety of prices, that all have something unique to offer, it is almost impossible to make a decision that you can proudly stand by for four years.

Most colleges are well aware of this fact. They are so aware of it, in fact, that they try anything and everything they can to set themselves apart. There are many ways to go about “being different”, but this is 2010 and you can’t just settle for appealing flyers and posters. No, now it is all about the Web site. Without a good Web site you might as well kiss your enrollment totals goodbye.

But what makes for a good Web site? Well if you’ve been following our blogs at all or just didn’t happen to be born yesterday then you should know the answer to that question – Web 2.0 of course. Videos, blogs, podcasts, social media, that’s what makes a site stand out. But there are two problems with this theory:

1. Features like this can be incredibly tricky to add to a site without proper web programmers or an awesome content management system (and believe me, both of those are a lot harder to come by than you’d think.)

2. Even when some schools do figure out how to add all of these great features, they are clueless when it comes to content (even at some of the most prestigious universities in the world).

My thoughts of this were inspired this morning when I had this awesome idea to one day attend graduate school at Brown University in hopes of befriending Emma Watson, who also goes there (for those of you who don’t know, that is the actress that plays Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter series). While searching the site I noticed a video called “A Review of Brown”. It was a little under ten minutes and had several interviews, graphics, and statistics about the school and the city of Providence. It was a very informative and attractive video; however, they made their school seem like little league instead of Ivy League.

Parts of this video talked about them drinking, partying, and smoking marijuana. It said that if you wanted to you could take every class as pass/fail, you can create your own classes, and that most of the campus is comprised of hippies. Haven’t you ever heard your parents talk about how crazy they were in the 70’s and all of the trouble they used to get in? Yeah that’s because they were hippies. Thus, any parent that watches this video will think that their child will make the same terrible mistakes that they did while smoking weed and drinking all the time. I don’t know about you, but my parents wouldn’t let me set foot in that school, and it’s BROWN for goodness sake. Parents are supposed to jump up and down with excitement when you get admitted to Brown, not lock you away in your room and ban you from ever leaving. Brown, is that really the image you are pursuing?

I guess what I’m really trying to say here is don’t just use Web 2.0 functionality for the sake of being hip and trendy. The use of video can be extremely beneficial for giving a tour of the campus, showing a production the school put on, or doing testimonials. Things like that can really make your site stand out and give the viewer a more in depth look at the school. But highlighting the parts that make parents cringe probably isn’t the greatest idea.


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Blogger Stacy Schwind said...

Wow, interesting blog. I totally agree with you. Universities need to be able to attract potential students with today's great Web 2.0 features like videos on their websites, but definetly need to it with class and on target with the university's message.

1/26/10, 11:45 AM  

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