For the most part, those heavy and overwhelming college guidebooks can’t really give prospective students a look at college life from a student’s perspective.
To solve that problem, admissions offices at universities across the country have teamed up with student bloggers to offer prospective students an inside look into campus life.
Schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Amherst College host student blogs on their admissions websites and the University of Michigan’s admissions office has also dabbled in student blogging.
Erica Sanders, director of recruitment and operations at the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, said the office tested putting student blogs on its website from 2006 to 2009.
“The Office of Undergraduate Admissions staged a three-year demonstration student blog, which ended last year,” she wrote in an e-mail interview.
Sanders added that the admissions office recruited bloggers from campus tour guides, student volunteers and student staff members. She also said admissions officials plan to bring the blogs back early next year.
LSA junior Mitch Crispell blogged for the admissions office two years ago. He said he was asked to blog because of his position as a Campus Day tour guide.
“The idea is that you talk about things that prospective students would want to know about and the things that they can relate to,” he said.
He said that the admissions office never told him what to write about. Furthermore, Crispell said that for the most part, the admissions office didn’t edit his entries.
“They gave us guidelines but they (knew) how much we love Michigan and they let us show the Michigan that we want(ed) to show,” he said.
Crispell said that he purposefully did not cover topics that were negative.
“I had a lot of negative things to say,” he said, “I didn’t write about how I didn’t like my psych class for example.
“I wrote about things I loved about Michigan,” he continued. “There are a few negatives like that at every school. I may have mentioned I didn’t like my large lectures. But I think I was very honest and gave a very accurate depiction of campus life. I wrote about being busy at meetings.”
Blog entries from 2008 included tips on the best places to study and eat in Ann Arbor, things every freshman should know, anecdotes from University life, and firsthand glimpses into clubs, performances, campus activities and residence hall life.
Though the University doesn’t host blogs anymore, Sanders said admissions office officials “learned a lot in the process.”
While the University’s admissions office has gotten rid of student blogs for now, other colleges are embracing the nationwide blogging trend.
David McOwen, communications manager for the MIT Office of Admissions wrote in an e-mail interview that MIT first began using blogs five years ago and today the site has 15 student bloggers.
McOwen wrote that student blogs offer interested high school students honest insight into the MIT experience.
“Student blogs provide the authentic, unfiltered view of what it’s really like to be a student at MIT,” he wrote. “It also gives prospective students a chance to post comments/questions to either the bloggers or admissions staff.”
Celena Chan, a sophomore at MIT, wrote in an e-mail interview that she never even considered attending MIT until she read the student blogs on the school’s admissions site.
“What made me change my mind was discovering the blogs on the MIT admissions website,” she wrote. “The bloggers wrote about all the crazy, cool things that went on, on campus, and more importantly, they blogged honestly about their journey at MIT.”
Mike Hudak — a tour guide and student blogger at Amherst — said that student blogging is especially beneficial for prospective students who are unable to visit a school before applying.
He said the only rule at Amherst is “don’t write about anything you wouldn’t say on a tour.”
McOwen wrote in the e-mail that MIT’s admissions office operates by a similar rule: that the admissions office allows their student bloggers free reign for the most part.
“We don’t give them assignments or pre-screen their entries unless they ask us to, so most of the time we’re just as excited as the rest of our audience to read a new post,” he wrote.