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Crafting the Freshman Experience with Digital Media

Posted by Chris Eckhardt on Aug 13, 2014 9:37:00 AM

Screen_Shot_2014-08-13_at_9.35.30_AMIf rock walls, new buildings, and football games show us anything, it’s that college is more than education, it’s an experience. For (most) students, college is as much a time for personal growth as professional development.

In 2008 I was a freshman at Auburn University. For reasons I don’t quite remember, I started college as a Theatre Tech/Design major, which meant I was instantly surrounded by a lot of friendly, talkative people and had plenty to keep me busy.

As a new student, having instant friends and things to do meant a lot to me and had a huge impact on the rest of my college experience.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much to make a big difference in how your new students are welcomed to your campus. Below are a few ways you can use digital media to be a valuable part of your freshmen’s experience.

Welcome Your Freshmen with Video

A new campus can be a lonely place. Fortunately, video offers you an outstanding opportunity to welcome your freshmen on a personal level. Far more effective than a mass assembly speech, a “one-on-one”welcome video can be embedded in an email and distributed to each new student. And you only have to shoot it once every couple years.

Here are a few tips:

- Have a president, dean, or other figurehead welcome the student.

- Make the video in second person, speaking directly to the student on the other side of the video.

- Keep it casual. Too formal of a video feels impersonal and less genuine.

- Invite the new student to connect on social media and take advantage of other student resources.

Guide Your Freshmen with Social Media

Social media allows you to help and converse with hundreds of people simultaneously. Here are a few ideas on how to use social media to make your new student’s experience a little easier:

-    Use Twitter and Facebook as a forum where students can ask questions

-    Use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to tell new students about upcoming events, campus organizations, or useful tips for daily student life

-    Use Twitter and Instagram to show new students images of exciting things happening on campus

Support Your Freshmen with Great Website Content

Your website can be so much more than just a collection of portals. Here are a few other ideas for your site:

-    Have an online “Freshman Survival Guide”

-    Tell the story of your college or university. Your website is a great place to house timeless tradition-focused content.

-    Use it to house important resources, for example, a campus map, building map, list of campus organizations, or long-term schedules

Take these ideas and adapt them to your own institution. Leverage the power of digital media to make a bigger impact in the lives of your students!

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Topics: higher ed

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