Students have responded positively to the chats, notes Eckstein, as 220 of the 260 students who participated in a video chat last year applied to the university, and 92 ultimately enrolled.
Kalynne Trembly, a freshman at Ohio Wesleyan, credits these video chats with helping her make her college decision. "I remember getting off the first video chat, and I [said], 'Mom, I want to go here. I feel so much more sure about my choice.'"
3. Facebook contests: Despite being established in 1924, Misericordia University in Pennsylvania is still battling for awareness in its region, says Jim Roberts, director of marketing communications—so it turned to Facebook.
To engage with incoming freshmen and reach prospective students, the school offered university bookstore gift certificates as prizes to incoming freshmen who replaced their Facebook profile pictures with the university logo.
[Learn why colleges are bringing campuses to Facebook.]
Of the roughly 370 incoming Misericordia freshmen, 63 students participated during the two-week summer contest—a success, according to Roberts. The university took the uncommon step of creating a friend profile on Facebook, rather than a fan page, to engage with individual students. This made tracking the contest more manageable since students "friend" the university on the social network, giving the school access to their public posts.
"The fact that we could monitor the conversations that their friends were having about the [profile pictures] really made us think that the contest was successful," Roberts says.
[Find out why colleges are using Facebook to research students.]
4. Tweeting behind the scenes: Colleges' traditional recruiting practices have typically been one-sided conversations, says Cory Chandler, marketing supervisor for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Texas Tech University. "In the past, there was no other option than to rely [only] on printed materials," Chandler says.
In an effort to add depth to the printed materials, Texas Tech used Twitter to cover a photo shoot for a story included in the annual recruiting mailer. The school Tweeted updates using a hashtag and shared photos and videos of the shoot—which chronicled a student lab on Texas Tech's campus that had recently been named by Popular Science as one of the country's "Most Awesome College Labs."
[Read about five unique uses of Twitter in the classroom.]
"We wanted to bring kids in to what is going on behind the scenes [in recruitment]," Chandler says, "Almost making it an event, as opposed to just a piece of mail."
5. YouTube video series: College recruitment videos typically promote what's best about a school, and often claim that any student can make that particular campus feel like home. But that is not the strategy the New School in New York City has implemented in its "Are You New School?" recruiting videos, says Cory Meyers, director of admission communications.