High School Students Increasingly Use Social Media for College Search

Facebook tops the list of platforms students use to research schools.

Students in high school are turning to social media to learn more about colleges and universities.
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As high school students consider their college choices, social media is playing an integral part in the process. According to a recent survey of more than 7,000 high school students by Zinch, an online college and scholarship matching service run by Chegg, and Inigral, an education and technology company, 68 percent of respondents noted that they used social media to research schools.

Many students are also taking their social media experiences with a college into consideration, with 38 percent of respondents stating that they have used social media as a resource when deciding where to enroll.

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Admissions offices are not surprised by the trust high school students are placing on social media platforms when researching schools, says Cara Rousseau, social media manager at Duke University.

"We know that prospective students use many tools to research schools they're interested in applying to," Rousseau says. "Our social media handles and pages have been a big way for us to communicate with prospective students."

High schools students also utilize Facebook more often than any other social media platform, according to the study, with 53 percent of respondents noting that they use the site multiple times per day. In comparison, 56 percent of students said they've never used Twitter, and more than 69 percent of respondents said they've never used Tumblr, Instagram, or Pinterest.

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Of those students who noted using social media to research colleges and universities, more than 55 percent said that they use Facebook to review a school's background. The largest social network in the world is an important tool for universities, Rousseau says, because that's where many of the conversations are taking place.

"If you're going to do one thing in the social media world to reach prospective students, Facebook is the platform to use," she notes. "We're seeing more and more that high school and college students are going to Facebook before they go to Google."

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Overall, according to the survey, 66 percent of prospective college students said that schools should have a social media presence, and 45 percent noted that they have been influenced by a school's engagement on these platforms. For Duke, Rousseau says that maintaining accounts that allow for conversations between the school and prospective, current, and former students is important for promoting the university's culture.

"I think that using these tools and platforms gives students a real insight into what colleges are really like," she says. "It's not the glossy brochure, but it's a real sample of what the experience is all about."

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