5 New Ways Colleges Are Reaching High School Students

Some schools are breaking tradition while recruiting prospective students.

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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.

"We're not trying to be everything to everyone, and that's going to turn some students off—and we're kind of OK with that," Meyers notes.

The series of videos, which are hosted on YouTube, feature student voices discussing topics not commonly heard on recruitment videos, from the school's dating scene to students being intimidated by the city. It's these honest, uncensored clips that separate New School's videos from other colleges and universities, says Meyers.

"Obviously, the New School is a little bit more progressive and out there than some of your more traditional institutions," he acknowledges. "So I doubt a lot of schools would have videos with students cursing in them … but, ultimately, we don't want to hide who we are."

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