Departments using social media outlets to connect
Elbowing their way out of what was once a forum for friends to talk about weekend plans, today’s social networking sites have transformed into tools that colleges are using to recruit new students, heighten the educational experience of current students and to bring alumni back into the fold.
Want to watch video from the Homecoming Parade? It’s on YouTube. Need to get in touch with fellow professionals about your job hunt? Marietta College is a member of LinkedIn. From Twitter, PioneerNet and Facebook to Flickr, Marietta offers plenty of doors in which alumni, students and potential students can learn about and reconnect with the College.
In July 2007, the College launched PioneerNet, a social community for alumni. Hub Burton, Associate Vice President for Alumni and College Relations, says PioneerNet serves as the sole resource when it comes to finding classmates. The site is log in and password protected, so the current 2,842 registered members can have peace of mind that their personal information is not compromised.
“Quite honestly, the comprehensive database for Marietta College is PioneerNet,” Burton says. “And now we’ve added another great resource for our registered members—a Facebook application. You can go back and forth between PioneerNet and Facebook without having to log out of either.”
Academic departments are also utilizing social media sites to help current students connect with alumni who share similar interests or who may be able to help propel recent graduates closer to their career aspirations. Both the Department of Business and Economics and the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business have online communities where students, staff, faculty and alumni can interact. The B & E Community has nearly 160 members.
Growing up the daughter of a U.S. Marine and having moved more than nine times during her childhood, Sarah Snow ’13 (Huntsville, Ala.) sees social media outlets as valuable ways of keeping in touch with friends. But as a McDonough Scholar, she also knows that belonging to certain communities helps to enhance her education and her connections to people who may be able to help her professionally in the future.
“I originally joined the McDonough Ning Community the summer before I entered Marietta as a freshman so that I could get to know other members of my Cohort,” she says. “I was coming from California and thought it was a great idea to get to know each other before we showed up. It made me feel a lot more comfortable and excited about coming! Now that freshman year is over, I still use Ning to answer questions that new leadership students may ask and to keep in touch with all of the Leadership students who also use Ning.”
Dr. Gama Perucci, Dean of McDonough, says the center added the Ning site in March 2009 initially to help incoming freshmen connect with current students and EXCEL Workshop leaders prior to arriving on campus. But the site has also blossomed for upperclassmen and currently has about 220 members.
Perucci says McDonough bloggers use the site to post photos and blogs about their Study Abroad experiences. Students taking Global Leadership classes respond to these blogs as part of their course. Additionally, petroleum engineering majors who are also in the McDonough Program use the site to write about their summer internships in various states such as Texas, New Mexico and California.
“We also created ‘groups’ within the site for the students in the Teacher Leadership Certificate and the International Leadership Studies major,” Perucci says, “so I also envision that those students will be using that part of the site to compare notes and share experiences.”
The McDonough Ning site is open to alumni, though few have joined at this point. Perucci says most alumni are using Facebook and LinkedIn as their primary networking sites. He hopes current students who are using Ning now will continue to do so after graduation to strengthen the McDonough alumni-student connection. Snow has every intention of doing so.
“I hope that Ning will still be successful when I graduate and I hope to use it to stay in contact with my leadership friends and to offer any assistance to McDonough that I can post-graduation,” she says.