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Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 1

Social Media in Undergraduate University Admissions

Abe Gruber

Director of Marketing, Bloomfield College

Author Note

This thesis was completed by the author as a M.B.A. student of Hawaii Pacific University in

Honolulu, HI in late 2009. Correspondence regarding this study should be addressed to Abe

Gruber at abe_gruber@bloomfield.edu.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 2

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of social media (social networking, blogs, etc.) on university

enrollment and the disconnect that exists between the social media-related expectations of

prospective students and the actions of university admission offices. Through the national

distribution of two surveys sampling 200 prospective freshman students and 70 admission

offices, this study gauges the usage of social media and its impact on enrollment behavior

between these two populations. The research presents that social media has a significantly

positive influence on applications and enrollment, and Facebook is the most influential among all

social media technologies. Additionally, there exists a sizeable disconnect between the

expectations of prospective students and how admission offices are utilizing social media with

specific respect to admission offices’ underutilization of Facebook and overutilization of Twitter.

Looking at the social media preferences of prospective freshmen and current/future usage by

admission offices, universities are out of touch with social media and their prospective students.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE
INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………………... 4
Problem Statement……………………………………………………………….. 7

LITERATURE REVIEW………………………………………………………………… 9
The State of Social Networking………………………………………………….. 9
What is Social Networking?…………………………………………………….. 10
Which Social Network is On Top?...................................................................................12
How Does Social Media Fit into the Recruiting Playbook?..........................................14
How Are Admission Offices Embracing Social Media?...................................................15

METHODOLOGY……………………………………………………………………….. 18
Research Design………………………………………………………………….. 21
Data Collection Procedures………………………………………………………. 22
Method of Analysis………………………………………………………………. 24
Assumptions and Limitations…………………………………………………….. 31

FINDINGS………………………………………………………………………………... 32
Initial Profiling of Social Media Usage…………………………………………... 33
Impact of Social Media on University Applications & Enrollment……………… 47
Facebook Communications and Interactions……………………………………... 61
Other General Trends…………………………………………………………….. 67
Meanings of Findings…………………………………………………………….. 84

CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………………… 88
Summary………………………………………………………………………….. 88
Practical Applications & Recommendations……………………………………... 89
Recommendation for Further Research…………………………………………... 91

WORKS CITED………………………………………………………………………….. 92

APPENDIXES
A. PROSPECTIVE STUDENT SURVEY………………………………………………. 97
B. ADMISSION OFFICE SURVEY……………………………………………………. 104
C. PROSPECTIVE STUDENT SURVEY – RAW RESULTS…………………………. 111
D. ADMISSION OFFICE SURVEY – RAW RESULTS………………………………. 123
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Chapter I

Introduction

Figure 1. “Finally starting my thesis on Electronic Comm./Social Media in Higher Ed. Admission” Facebook status

update and comments (March 22, 2009).


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Figure 2. “So, I'm Writing my Thesis About Facebook, Twitter, and Stuff” comments in response to Facebook note

(March 22, 2009).

Two quick posts on Facebook, and within a short few hours, one status update and Facebook

note receives over 20 direct and meaningful replies from people in three countries, and eight

states (see Figures 1 & 2).

This is the power of social media.


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In the late 1990’s, the rise of the internet gave way to the birth of email – a fundamental

paradigm shift in the way people connected with each other. With a few clicks of a mouse,

messages with recipes, memos, and fishing pictures were instantly sent around the globe to

friends, coworkers, and family alike. Sending an email became the equivalent of calling a long

lost friend once a week. Conversations were continued on a semi-frequent basis, and the

messages themselves were essentially comprehensive updates on the happenings of that week.

For years, email was the status quo for most, if not all, electronic communication standards.

However, in 2005, the Web 2.0 revolution gave rise to a new ideology of what the internet was

all about. The internet wasn’t just about websites and email anymore. The focus shifted to such

ideas as participation, usability, design, and accessibility, and web technologies shifted focus to

RSS, CSS, AJAX, and an overall convergence of these technologies within single platforms

(O’Reilly, 2005).

The Web 2.0 revolution led to the birth of social networking and blogging – two trends that

truly hit home with people all across the internet. Social networks and blogs gave users instant

access to updates on the happenings in their friends’ lives. For example, Twitter, a popular

micro-blogging site, asks users, “What are you doing” and limits responses to only 160

characters (Razzell, 2008). As soon as a user submitted their answer, it was propagated across

the Internet and on to friends’ screens in mere seconds.

Unlike email, where communicating was semi-frequent and drawn out, social media is short

and instantaneous letting people share their lives online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Now, in 2009, social networks have officially surpassed email in global usage and these

networks are growing in popularity twice as fast as search engines and web portals (Social

Networks & Blogs Now 4th Most Popular Online Activity, Ahead of Personal Email, 2009).
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In today’s global economy, many industries are attempting to capitalize on the power of

social media, but there is one industry in particular that is best suited to adapt to these new

mediums – institutions of higher education. As social networking has become one of the most

popular means of communication among the traditional college-age demographic, universities

are beginning to utilize these technologies to communicate with current and prospective students.

As of January 2009, 40% of Facebook’s US population were of age 18-24 (Corbett, 2009). In

addition to being a popular social network among current undergraduate students, there are more

than 5 million Facebook users currently in high school – the primary target audience of

universities (Facebook.com Advertising Wizard, 2009).

As most prospective undergraduate students are fully utilizing social media platforms, it is

highly valuable to university admission departments to have an accurate assessment of how to

best connect and communicate with prospective students through these mediums. With an

accurate understanding of the role these technologies can play throughout the admission process,

universities can tailor their recruitment strategies to utilize social media technologies to increase

both brand awareness and more importantly, enrollment.

Problem Statement

This study attempts to answer the question, “does a university’s use of social media positively

impact enrollment”. The study will analyze the role of social media in the realm of higher

education admissions and determine which forms of social media are the most effective in

building successful and higher yielding relationships between students and institutions of higher

education.
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As an added component, the author will be making this study interactive with members of his

own social networks. As the author discovers new articles, information and insight regarding the

topic, he will post it to his various social media outlets with the intent of soliciting feedback

from others he is connected with (currently over 1,000 people). The author will include valuable

feedback where appropriate with the intent of demonstrating the power and impact of social

media.

To assess the impact of social media on university enrollment, there are two primary areas of

inquiry of which this researcher chose to investigate and answer through the means of relevant,

and more importantly current, literature and primary research:

1. Which forms of social media are the most effective in increasing university applications

and enrollments?

2. What, if any, disconnect exists between prospective undergraduate students and

university admission departments in terms of communicating through social media? Do the

expectations of prospective students differ with the actions of universities with respect to

communications/interactions via social media during the recruitment process?

Often, it is common for universities to be far behind mainstream businesses and organizations

when it comes to their level of technology usage – both in the classroom as well as in their

recruitment and marketing. When schools have limited money and resources, technology is often

the last area to receive funding, and universities should not be expected to be on top of social

media trends and technologies.

Therefore, it should be anticipated that universities do not have an adequate grasp on the

concept and usage of social media. With this being said, this researcher believes that there is a

natural disconnect between admission offices and prospective students in the social media realm.
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In addition to the “experience gap” between the 16-24 age demographic and institutions of

higher learning, there also exists a difference in motive of usage. Whereas 16-24 year olds are on

sites like Facebook and YouTube to keep in touch with friends and share their daily lives,

university admission departments are slowly migrating to these sites with the intent of increasing

enrollment – as that is the primary function of the admission department.

With this inherent inexperience with social media and disconnect with their primary audience, it

benefits university admission departments to strive to better understand these mediums and learn

which ones are the most effective in recruiting students. Additionally, as universities study these

mediums and properly ascertain their effectiveness, they can incorporate successful technologies into

their communication plan and adjust their strategy of how to best reach out and recruit students while

maintaining and fostering successful relationships with these students.

Chapter II

Literature Review

The State of Social Networking

In February of 2009, the Nielsen Global Corporation released a new study finding that for the

first time in the history of the Internet, the average time spent on social networks exceeded that

of e-mail (Nielsen, 2009). Furthermore, from 2007 to 2008, social networking sites (SNS) grew

in membership at a rate twice that of e-mail and almost triple of both search sites and general

interest portals and communities:


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Time spent on social network and blogging sites growing at over [three times] the rate of

overall Internet growth. This increase in popularity is only half [of] the story when it comes to

the social networking phenomenon – the time people spend on these networks is also increasing

dramatically. The total amount spent online globally increased by 18% between December

2007 and December 2008. In the same period, however, the amount of time spent on [social

networking sites] rose by 63% to 45 billion minutes.

What is Social Networking?

The Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Study of Undergraduate Students

and Information Technology, 2008 defines social networking sites as:

Web-based services that allow [individuals] to 1) construct a public or semi-public profile

within a bounded system, 2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a

connection, and 3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within

the system (Salaway & Caruso, 2008, p. 22).

However, surveying individual users of social networking sites revealed varying opinions on

this matter. Shayna Mérçëdês considers these SNSs more than just a way to “articulate a list” of

people whom she shares connections with, but it is also a way to meet new people from around

the world (personal communication via Facebook, June 3, 2009). While most SNSs allow users

to meet new people that are only connected to their network of friends/connections, most modern

SNSs allow users to search for and contact users beyond their extended network of friends. Bob
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Sigall, a professor of marketing with over 30 years of consulting experience calls social

networking “hanging out 'round the cyber water cooler or on the cyber street corner” (personal

communication via Facebook, June 3, 2009). One interviewee took it as far as to define social

networking as follows:

A vortex of narcissistic self-indulgence using past and present friends, lovers, exes and

acquaintances to validate yourself in an [ever-isolating] digital environment with single

serving attention spans comprised of pithy one liners such as this (A. De Castro, personal

communication via Facebook, June 3, 2009).

De Castro’s interpretation may be a bit vivid, but it is not far off from reality as a recent study

by the University of Georgia found that the number of friends and postings by a person on

Facebook was directly correlated to narcissism (Study: Facebook profiles can be used to detect

narcissism, 2008). Across various definitions of social networking, three common themes seem

to be apparent: 1) community among one’s current friends and acquaintances, 2) the ability to

reach out and meet new people not currently in their social or professional circle, and 3) a

technology-based infrastructure to foster the relationships between one’s friends, relatives, and

colleagues.
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Which Social Network is on Top?

According to recent statistics, it’s said that one in five Americans still believe that it is the

sun that revolves around the earth (Steward, n.d.), one in five adults around the world are

illiterate (Global Campaign for Education, n.d.), and one in five births in the Indian village of

Kodinhi result in twins (Fox News, 2009). More interestingly, as of November 2008, one in five

of all people on the internet visited Facebook, and traffic to the site grew by 10.8% in the next

month to a whopping 222 million visitors (Arrington, M., 2009). That is more than the

populations of Canada, Spain, Australia, Mexico, and Greece combined (World Atlas of Travel,

n.d.). While MySpace is the currently the number one social networking site in the United

States, Facebook still leads in the social networking arena with a global online reach of 29.9% -

compared to the 22.4 % of MySpace (Nielsen, 2009).

It is no surprise that Facebook continues to lead the pack in social networking based open

recent news and events. Since MySpace was founded in 2003, it has become known for being a

safe-haven of sorts for sexual predators, and from 2007 to early 2009, MySpace has removed the

profiles of over 90,000 sex offenders (Brunswick, M., 2009). While MySpace was reacting to

the outcry of many MySpace users, as well as concerned parents, Stephanie Reitz of Time.com

reported that Facebook took a more preventative stance towards protecting younger users of the

site including: “banning convicted sex offenders from the site, limiting older users' ability to

search online for subscribers under 18 and building a task force seeking ways to better verify

users' ages and identities” (2008). Although, MySpace continues to dominate the US market, all

of the negative press has contributed to MySpace being held back from the global expansion

Facebook is currently seeing. Between December of 2007 and December of 2008, the total time
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spent by users on Facebook grew “by a massive 566% – from 3.1 billion minutes to 20.5 billion”

(Nielsen, 2009).

With respect to Twitter, the micro-blogging site has seen tremendous expansion as their

growth over the last year is five times more than that of Facebook (Kress, 2009). The Twitter

demographic is more geared toward 30-45 who have already graduated from college with no

teenagers in their household (Quantcast, n.d.), and in recent weeks, Twitter, too, has seen their

fair of negative attention as profiles of the presidents of the University of Texas and Georgetown

were found to have been created by imposters (Young, 2009). Studies have also shown that

while Twitter is seeing tremendous growth, 60% of all new Twitter users quit after just one

month – approximately double that of both Facebook and MySpace (Eaton, 2009).

Today, Facebook has naturally become the paramount SNS of the college-age demographic.

This is largely in part to how Facebook was initially designed for college students only –

requiring proof of enrollment via a campus-based “.edu” email address (Arrington, 2005). As

the site took off, the next natural progression was to include high school students as well, and

while MySpace was open to virtually anyone of any age, Facebook built itself around the 16-24

year old demographic of high school and college students. According to CollegeRecruiter.com,

as of January 2009, 83% of college students were actively using Facebook, compared to 65%

using MySpace and 21% using LinkedIn (Rothberg, 2009). However, there have been reports of

even higher saturations of Facebook among undergraduate student bodies across America at

levels of 85%, 94%, and as high as 95 (Arrington, 2005; Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, n.d.;

Salaway & Caruso, 2008).


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How Does Social Media Fit into the Recruiting Playbook?

At the very heart of the university recruiting cycle is the admission funnel where schools

attract and receive interest from hundreds to thousands of students for each term and work to

matriculate these inquiries through the admission process and into enrolled students (Deutsch,

n.d.). As Deutsch reports, the admission funnel starts with the pre-funnel: the population of all

people who are potential prospective students. Once a high school student directly expresses

interest in a university, they become an inquiry, and then they can move along the funnel to

become applicants, enrolled students, and finally the freshman class of the next semester. As

students progress through the admission funnel, universities use a variety of recruitment and

marketing techniques to advise students and encourage enrollment including: direct mail

campaigns, campus visits, e-mail & website traffic, high school visits, college fairs, telephone

calls, and much more.

Today’s prospective student is “far more likely to scroll down a Web page than thumb

through a university view book,” and for several years now, university admission officers have

been relying on the power of the Internet to help make admission decisions for applicants

(Schworm, 2008). With the power of sites like Google and Yahoo! at hand, it is estimated that

over 25% of prospective students are screened using search engines (My College Guide, 2009).

A Kaplan survey of over 300 admission officers showed that 10% had visited applicant profiles

on social networks (Kaplan, 2008), and to add insult to injury, 38% of these social network

background checks resulted in a negative impact on students’ admission decisions.

While “very few students … [are] actually aware of the academic and professional

networking opportunities that the [social networking] sites provide,” universities are becoming
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more aware than ever and are using more technologies than just search-based websites and

scanning through social networking profiles (Science Daily, 2008). In recent years, university

admission offices have begun to utilize social media in their recruitment strategy beyond just

researching applicants.

One of the only published studies looking at social media in university admission is a

longitudinal study of university admission officials in 2007 and in 2008 by Nora Ganim Barnes,

PhD and Eric Mattson entitled Social Media and College Admissions: The First Longitudinal

Study. The study shows a significant increase in usage of social media technologies from 2007 to

2008 and uncovered that over 60% of admission offices are using social networking – double

that of the 29% found in 2007 (Barnes & Mattson, 2009, p. 3). There was also significant usage

increases with 48% utilizing video blogging – compared to 19% one year ago, 36% utilizing

message boards – formerly 27%, and the usage of wikis jumped threefold from 3% to 10% (p. 4).

In regards to blogs, higher education is actually outpacing Fortune 500 companies 41% to 39%

as far as the number of institutions with public blogs (p. 1).

How Are Admission Offices Embracing Social Media?

There is evidence of enthusiasm and eagerness to embrace these new communications tools

but there is also evidence that these powerful tools are not being utilized to their potential.

However, while schools are jumping on the social media bandwagon, there is much room for

improvement. Schools using social media must learn the “rules of engagement” in the online

world in order to maximize their effectiveness.


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That is still not to say, that schools are making progress. In 2008, the number of schools not

using any form of social media dropped from 39% down to 15% clearly indicating that schools

are heading in the right direction (Barnes & Mattson, p. 4). While 55% of those surveyed in

2008 indicated that social media is “very important” for their recruiting strategy, of those

respondents not using social media, 40% and 29% plan to use blogging and social media in the

future, respectively.

Admission offices around the country (and around the world) are focusing on Facebook to

help with recruitment. On official Facebook Pages, schools are posting orientation information,

important deadlines, and allowing new students to meet up with one another so they have

friends before they arrive on campus (McRory, 2009). Some admission offices are directly

contacting students through Facebook and reaching out via friend requests and wall posts

(California State University – Northridge, 2009). Some schools are even employing a complete,

across the board offensive utilizing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and online chats – all at the

same time (Brownlee & Mays, 2009).

Due to social media being very new, and even newer to higher education, many schools are

trying to grasp both the needs of their prospective students as well as understand which social

media strategies to use. Noel-Levitz answers part of this by saying that “as prospective students

seek to break through marketing messages to get to the ‘real’ experience of attending a

university, [social networking] sites provide unique opportunities to present unvarnished views

of student life” (Noel-Levitz, 2007). Therefore, as students engage universities through these

new mediums, they are in search of a more honest viewpoint of the school that they expect from

said mediums. In doing so, prospective students also get to communicate with current students
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to get a true perspective of the university that they would not be able to get from a view book

(My College Guide, 2009).

When designing a social media strategy for higher education admissions, Stamats

recommends building a powerful network founded on user-generated content while giving that

network an identity of its own (McDonald, 2008). By combining this technique with well-

thought out metrics, social media can be leveraged to expand a university’s inquiry pool and

improve conversion rates and yield. Jeff Olson, Executive Director of Research for Kaplan Test

Prep and Admissions, admits that schools are still searching for the right strategy, saying that,

“the social networking frontier is a bit like the Wild West for colleges and universities --

everyone is trying to figure out how to navigate it” (Kaplan, 2008).

While there has been no direct proof of social networking presenting direct opportunities for

enrollment, social networks still add “another layer of context for prospective students and their

families” (Noel-Levitz, 2007). Integrating social media becomes even more valid these days as

70% of students expect colleges to have some presence in social networking and 50% of students

do not mind being contacted directly through a social network (Reuben, 2009). However, while

email and social media are slowly replacing traditional view books and brochures, some schools

are hesitant to engage social media (Queijo, 2009). Queijo sums it up best saying that, “when it

comes to admissions recruiting, it’s a lot like sorting the laundry: you have to decide among what

to keep, what to toss, what needs cleaning and, most importantly, what still fits.”

As social media is relatively new, scholarly research is hard to find these days. Furthermore,

it is only within the last two years that there has been evidence of social media being used as a

recruitment tool in the realm of higher education. After extensive research into the matter, the

only educational study published is the Barnes/Mattson study. However, this study does not
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investigate the effectiveness of these tools or their impact on yield conversion and enrollment.

The author hopes to address this directly by surveying prospective students and admission

offices directly and uncovering the direct impact of social media upon higher education

admissions.

Chapter 3

Methodology

As university admission offices around the country continue to search for and cultivate their

next incoming class, social media is slowly being adopted as a key component of their

recruitment strategies. It becomes a natural fit for universities as social media outlets are already

a major hub for prospective freshmen, and there are virtually no monetary resources needed to

utilize these new mediums. However, one of the biggest issues facing admission offices’ use of

social media, as well as the focus of the primary research question, is whether universities’

usage of social media has an impact on enrollment.

An initial response from this researcher suggests that the usage of social media in higher

education admissions must have some impact, even if marginal or inconsequential, on enrollment

simply by way of being an active component of schools’ recruitment strategies. However, the

utilization of social media in admissions is so new that universities have not yet had the

opportunity to analyze the outcomes or, more specifically, the impact these technologies have

had on enrollment conversion and yield.

This section follows with two hypotheses: one, suggesting that the students who interact with

universities on social media outlets are more likely to enroll, and two, that there is a disconnect
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between universities and prospective students as to how best to interact with prospective students

via social networking. The research involving these two hypotheses was designed to include a

definition of important terms as used in this study, to detail the data collection procedure for each

survey group, to describe the rationale and method of data analysis, and to conclude with

assumptions and limitations.

Research Area #1. Determine if students who interact with university admission offices via

social media are more or less likely to enroll at these universities.

Hypothesis: Students who interact with admission offices using social media are

more likely to apply and enroll with these universities.

Research Area #2. Determine if there is a disconnect between university admission offices and

prospective students as to how to best utilize social networking to interact with each other.

Hypothesis: There is a disconnect between the expectations of prospective students and

actual actions of admission offices with regards to what kind of interaction that takes

place using social networking.

Definitions

Social Media. Social media is a fairly new and general term, but it can best be defined as

technology-based “platforms for interaction and networking” (Hopkins, 2008). These


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technologies are quite scalable and allow for interpersonal networking as well as the

interpersonal distribution and sharing of media – both new, traditional, and user-generated. For

the purposes of this study, social media will include the following technologies: social

networking, blogs, podcast, video podcasts, instant messaging, message boards, online group

chat, social bookmarking, video-sharing, and RSS. With regards to social networks, preference

will be given to Facebook as there are statistically more prospective freshman students using that

network than any other.

Prospective Students. The term "prospective students" generally includes all persons

actively seeking admission for an upcoming term at a college or university. Because this

definition can include people of virtually any age or background, it is too general for the

purposes of this study. Thus, this study will only focus on high school seniors inquiring or

applying for university admission for the upcoming fall 2009 semester.

Conversion & Yield. Conversion, in an admission sense, is best known as a prospective

student’s movement from stage to stage of the admission funnel (Deutsch, n.d.) and is a ratio of

the number of students in one stage of the funnel compared to another. Yield, often the most

important conversion ratio in university admissions, is the number of students a university

accepts compared to the number that actually enroll (CollegeBasics.com, 2009).

Disconnect. For the purposes of this study, a disconnect will exist when there is a divide

between the expectations of prospective students and the actions of universities with respect to

the usage and implementation of specific aspects of social networks including, but not limited to

private messages, public messages, and communication of admission decisions and deadlines.
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Research Design

This research project was based on two distinct and independent survey groups. The first

group, “Prospective Student Survey,” took a random sample of 200 high school seniors who

have indicated interest in attending a university for the fall 2009 semester to determine if they are

more likely to enroll at universities utilizing social networking and what their expectations of

these universities using social networking were. The second data set, “Admission Office

Survey,” was a random sampling of 70 admission professionals across the United States

inquiring as to their usages of social media technologies and its impact on their recruitment.

The two surveys were very similar to one another with respect to usage and expectations of

usage of varying forms of social media technologies. However, the Admission Office Survey

also included questions pertaining to the integration of social media into their admission

departments/divisions. The Prospective Student Survey was delivered via email and

administered using SurveyMonkey.com, a popular online survey tool, while the Admission

Office Survey was delivered in paper format to admission professionals from around the

country at an annual conference for enrollment management technology (EMT). Both surveys

were conducted during July of 2009.

The two surveys were first analyzed separately to determine trends and usage with regards

social media and then together to investigate the relationship(s) between the two populations,

prospective students and universities. Data was analyzed to determine if there was, in fact, a

positive result from admission offices’ use of social media – does social media help increase

enrollment? Conclusions were then drawn as to the success of social media initiatives in
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recruitment and whether or not a disconnect exists between the expectations of students and the

actions of universities.

Data Collection Procedure

The data collection procedure consisted of four steps of each of the two survey groups: (1)

identifying the data collection method used, (2) characterizing the demographics and of the

proposed respondents, (3) describing the sampling procedure used to identify prospective

respondents in each set, and (4) detailing the survey procedure used to collect data. The two

survey groups provided the information to form two data sets to challenge the two

aforementioned hypotheses. This four-step data collection procedure was applied to each survey

group, separately, as follows.

Survey group #1 – Prospective Student Survey.

1. Type of data collection. A brief, yet thorough, questionnaire of social media habits and

usage was delivered electronically via a hyperlink within e-mails sent to research participants

(see Appendix A). Respondents were intended to be graduating high school seniors actively

seeking admission into a university for the fall 2009 semester. This survey method was used due

to its ease of distribution and the ability to ensure that the questionnaire was administered the

same for all subjects.

2. Research participants. There were 20 respondents in the sample, 157 of which fully

completed all questions of the survey. While the 43 respondents may not have answered all

questions, their responses to the questions they did answer will be included in the final survey

results. All respondents were pre-qualified as being a graduating high school senior pursuing
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admission for the fall 2009 semester, living in the United States (except Hawai‘i), and 18

years of age or older on the day the survey was distributed. Respondents were identified using

a customer relationship management (CRM) tool by this researcher, who is familiar with the

research target population. Hawaii was excluded from the target group due to a heavy skew in

the CRM database.

3. Sampling procedure. Using the CRM of a private, NCAA Division II university in

Hawaii, a random convenience sample was used as all 20,621 prospective students were

emailed the link to the Prospective Student Survey. These prospective students were members

of the university’s admission pool and willingly opted in to receive communications from the

university. From this email blast, 200 prospective students responded – an overall response rate

of 0.97%.

4. Interview procedure for the Prospective Student Survey. The survey instrument used in

this study was a 16-question questionnaire comprised of multiple-choice, matrix, select-one,

and open-ended questions. The survey was administered via a hyperlink embedded in an email

that contained a brief overview of this study and basic instructions on how to access the survey.

Survey group #2 – Admission Office Survey.

1. Type of data collection. A brief, yet thorough, questionnaire of social media habits, very

similar to that of the Prospective Student group, was administered in paper format to admission

representatives of 70 universities (see Appendix B). Respondents were intended to be staff

members of admission-related departments with accurate knowledge of their university’s usage

of social media technologies. This survey was chosen to be identical in nature to that of the

Prospective Student Survey for purposes of mutual comparison and relation to the study’s

hypotheses.
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2. Research participants. There were 70 respondents in the sample, and everyone fully

completed all questions of the survey. All respondents were attendees at an annual conference for

enrollment management technologies and audience members of a discussion panel on social media

usage in university admission. This researcher, who is familiar with recent trends in admission-

related usage of social media, collected all respondent data at the EMT conference.

3. Sampling procedure. At the aforementioned conference, this researcher conducted a

convenience sample of the session attendees. Two hundred paper surveys were randomly distributed

and instructions were given to the audience detailing how to complete the survey and to ensure that

only one person from each school in attendance completed the survey. Out of all

200 that were distributed, 70 surveys were completed and returned for an overall response rate

of 35%.

4. Interview procedure for the Admission Office Survey. The survey instrument used in this

study was an 11-question questionnaire comprised of multiple-choice, matrix, select-one, and

open-ended questions.

Method of Analysis

The method of data analysis was divided into four primary sections: 1) an initial profiling of

social media usage, 2) the impact of social media on university applications & enrollment, 3) an

in depth look at Facebook communications and interactions, and 4) a study of other general

trends found during the study. For sections one through three, questionnaire responses from each

survey, the Prospective Student Survey and Admission Office Survey, were first individually

analyzed to build a profile of each population to better understand the attitudes and behaviors of
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 25

each group. Second, the responses from each group were directly compared to one another to

determine if any correlation or dissention exists between the two populations. This was a direct

benefit of the intentional similarity between the two surveys.

The data was initially sorted using the Survey Monkey online software to prepare initial

reports from each individual survey and generate cross-tabulated results where needed. After the

online tool generated basic reports, Microsoft Excel was used for further investigation and

evaluation of the responses. For part two of the data analysis, Excel was used again to compare

responses from both surveys where applicable.

Prospective Student Survey.

The first six questions inquired as to all of the social media technologies the students

currently used and via which social media technologies, if any, prospective students have used or

wish to use to interact with universities during their college search. This data was used to

establish a profile of the prospective incoming class of 2009 as to which social media

technologies were being utilized most in their college search.

Questions seven through nine were designed to ascertain the impact on these technologies on

the students’ decision to apply and attend their university of choice – thus answer if these

technologies had a positive impact on their matriculation with their respective schools.

Question 10 asked which types of communication students wanted from the universities

that they expressed interest in via Facebook. This was designed to establish a reasonable set of

student expectations to be compared against the actions of university admission offices as

established by the Admission Office Survey.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 26

Questions 11-14 asked what interactions, if any took place between prospective students and

current university students on Facebook. Then, if any interactions did take place, did this result

in some kind of impact on students’ decisions to apply and attend.

Question 15 investigated which form of social media was most desirable by students once

they matriculated to an enrolled student to determine any potential social media relationship

between university admission offices and student life/services offices.

Finally, question 16 was an open-ended question asking prospective students for any

additional thoughts on the use of social media by admission offices.

Admission Office Survey.

Questions one, two, and five were designed to determine which social media technologies were

in use (or will soon be in use) by university admission offices and whether or not the content posted

on these platforms were specifically targeting inquiries, applicants or both. This gave a frame of

reference to compare the technologies in use by schools versus those used by prospective students to

identify any existence of a disconnect – both of current and future trends.

Questions three and four were to ascertain the impact on these technologies on freshman

applications and enrollments and are modeled exactly after questions seven and nine in the

Prospective Student Survey. Thus, the two subsets could be analyzed to determine if the trends

reported by universities and prospective students are identical in nature.

Question six, a direct reciprocate of question 10 from the Prospective Student Survey asked

which types of communication admission offices utilize via Facebook. When compared directly

against the responses from prospective students, it was the hope of this researcher to determine if

a disconnect truly did exist between these two segments.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 27

Questions 7-10 inquired as to the place social media has within university admission offices

– if any at all. A detailed analysis of these responses would reveal the level of involvement

social media has within admission departments, whether schools have social media strategies,

and whether or not schools have the ability to track/measure ROI from social media initiatives.

Finally, question 11 is an open-ended question asking respondents for any additional thoughts

on the use of social media by admission offices.

Analysis of data set integration.

The purpose of collecting responses from both students and admission offices was to 1)

compare responses of questions regarding the impact of various social media technologies on

university applications and enrollments to establish consistency between the two groups, 2)

compare responses regarding Facebook interaction between universities and prospective

students to determine if a disconnect exists, and 3) uncover any other general trends among the

two populations.

1. Impact of social media on applications and enrollment. First, questions seven & nine in

the Prospective Student Survey and questions 3-4 in the Admission Office Survey were analyzed

individually then comparatively to establish consistency to determine social media impact on

applications enrollment. The null hypothesis for this test –

HA0 = The usage of social media by universities has a negative impact on the number of

applications and enrollments from prospective freshman students.

The null hypothesis purported that both the university outreach via social media had a

negative impact on the likelihood of prospective students to apply and enroll. This would be
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 28

represented by majority responses of “negative impact” in both the prospective student and

admission office surveys. The purpose for testing these two data sets, then, was to reject the null

hypothesis and to acknowledge its alternate hypothesis (HA1); i.e., that social media has a

positive impact on applications and enrollments from prospective freshman.

HA1 = Students who interact with universities using social media are more likely to apply

and enroll with these universities.

The null hypothesis was tested via a general analysis of trends within the Prospective Student

and Admission Office Surveys, respectfully. For the analysis, the total “negative” responses

were subtracted from the “positive” responses (ignoring “no impact” responses) to create a

score of impact. Arbitrary “levels” were established to better characterize the results whether

they were found to have either positive or negative influence; 0% indicated “no influence”,

0.1%-3% indicated “insignificant influence”, 3.1%-10% indicated “marginal influence”, and

anything greater than 10% was considered “significant influence”.

Additionally, there was a need to weigh the positive influence levels of each form of social

media against its actual usage among the surveyed population. For example, if the positive

influence level of “Social Media A” was 100%, yet only 5% of respondents actually used it, it

would have a much less overall impact to admission offices compared to “Social Media B” that

had 80% positive influence – but was used by 50% of students. Thus, this researcher developed

the Applicant Impact Factor (AIF) and Enrollment Impact Factor (EIF). These two benchmarks

weigh the positive influence levels of social media upon applications and enrollment,

respectively, against their usage by the surveyed population.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 29

The formulas for the AIF and EIF are as follows:

Positive Influence Level of Social


Application Impact Factor = Media on Applications
x
Usage of Social Media

Positive Influence Level of Social


Enrollment Impact Factor = Media on Enrollment
x
Usage of Social Media

The AIF and EIF prevented social media technologies with lower usage from overshadowing

those that would be proven to have more of an impact on applications and enrollment.

Next, a secondary analysis of the data was conducted to compare the overall results between

the prospective student and admission office responses for consistency, and a tertiary analysis

of the data investigated any other trends related to the null hypothesis.

2. Disconnect between prospective students and universities. Question six from the

Admission Office Survey and question 10 from the Prospective Student Survey asked

respondents about the kinds of interactions preferred by prospective students and performed by

admission offices. The null hypothesis for this test –

HB0 = No disconnect exists between the expectations of prospective students and the actual

actions of university admission offices via social media.

This secondary null hypothesis purported that universities are utilizing social media outlets

in the same methods that are expected by prospective students. As there are many different

forms of social media to test this hypothesis, Facebook was chosen as the primary focus due its
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 30

emergence as the leading social media platform for the prospective freshman demographic. The

purpose for testing these two data sets, then, was to reject the null hypothesis and acknowledge

its alternate hypothesis (HB1); i.e., that there is a significant difference between what universities

are doing via social media and what prospective students what them to do.

HB1 = There is a disconnect between the expectations of prospective students and the

actual actions of university admission offices with regard to what kinds of interaction

take place using social media.

The secondary null hypothesis was tested via the aforementioned survey question presented

in both surveys. The responses of each answer choice were individually compared among

responses from both prospective students and admission staff. Arbitrary “levels” were once

again created to characterize and identify disconnects between the two populations; 0%

indicated, “no disconnect”, 0.1%-5% indicated “insignificant disconnect”, 5%-10% indicated

“marginal disconnect”, and anything greater than 10% was considered “significant disconnect”.

3. Other exploratory research. Finally, an analysis of general trends and correlations was

performed utilizing the remaining questionnaire questions. These questions were asked to

provide supporting evidence/information for the results of the two hypothesis tests. For

prospective students, questions were asked to learn more about the influence of Facebook

communications with current students on their decisions to apply and enroll at their school of

choice. Prospective students were also asked which social media medium they would most like

to use to stay in touch with their school as a current student. Admission staff respondents were
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 31

asked about strategy integration, tracking & ROI, and the use of social media in other non-

admission-related departments.

Assumptions and Limitations

Assumptions. In order to confine this study into a realistic work and to define its parameters

sufficiently to argue its merits, the following assumptions were made:

1. Most prospective freshman students have similar social media habits and share similar

preferences to how they want to interact with universities through social media during their

college search.

2. Most prospective students have similar levels of access to all of the social

media technologies referenced herein.

3. Respondents to the Admission Office Survey have adequate knowledge and

understanding of their university’s usage, or lack thereof, of social media.

Limitations. This research study was conducted in an environment absent of prior work in

the specific field of this study’s focus. Given the focus identified by the hypotheses and

definition of primary terms, the following are the limitations as pertaining to this study.

1. Social media is relatively new in concept, and as a result, there is very limited academic

research available. Furthermore, as of the writing of this study, there is virtually no research in

the academic arena about the usage of social media in higher education admissions with

respect to the attitudes, behaviors, and enrollment of prospective students.

2. Due to the nature of the CRM database used to deliver survey invitations to prospective

students, there are no Hawaii respondents in the Prospective Student Survey. The school in
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 32

question had a disproportionate amount of prospective students living in Hawaii, and thus those

records were excluded. However, as the study was targeted to residents of the 49 other states, it

is still positioned as a national study.

3. While both the prospective student and Admission Office Survey were distributed to a

bona fide national audience, the surveys were convenience samples, and no consideration

was given to ensure an even geographic distribution of surveys or survey respondents.

Chapter IV

Findings

The purpose of this study was to determine 1) if students who interact with universities via

social media are more or less likely to enroll at these universities, and 2) is there a disconnect

between the expectations of prospective students and the actions of universities in regards to the

usage of social media in the recruitment process. This chapter reports the results and findings of

a study on those two points of inquiry and is divided into five primary sections:

1. Initial Profiling of Social Media Usage

2. Impact of Social Media on University Applications & Enrollment

3. Facebook Communications and Interactions

4. Other General Trends

5. Meanings of Findings
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 33

Initial Profiling of Social Media Usage

This first section is designed to report on this researcher’s findings from the Prospective

Student Survey and the Admission Office Survey as they pertain to the usage of social media

technologies. Responses will be analyzed from each population individually, and then a

comparative analysis will be presented.

Prospective students.

Figure 3. Social media technologies used, in general, by prospective students. n = 200.

1. Social media technologies used by prospective students. The first question in the

Prospective Student Survey asked respondents to identify all of the social media technologies

they currently used (see Figure 3). All 200 respondents answered the question, and YouTube

was the most used social media technology among prospective students at 81%. Facebook was a

very close second at 79%, and instant messaging, MySpace, and blogging rounded out the top
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 34

five at 53%, 46.5%, and 31%, respectively. The only other social media technologies used by

more than 10% of prospective students were message boards (19%), audio podcasts (16.5%),

Twitter (16%), and video podcasts (12%). Rounding out the bottom four technologies were

group chats (8%), RSS (5.5%), LinkedIn (4%), and Social Bookmarking (3.5%). Four

prospective students, 2% of respondents, indicated that they did not use any of the social media

technologies listed within the question – meaning that 98% of prospective freshman use some

form of social media.

Figure 4. Social media technologies prospective students would like universities to have/use during their college

search. n = 192.

2. Social media technologies wanted by prospective students for use during their college

search. In contrast to question one of the Prospective Student Survey which asked which social

media technologies were used by prospective students, question two investigated which social

media technologies were desired by students as a preferred method to connect/communicate with


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 35

universites during their college search. Out of 192 respondents, 59.9% of prospective students

indicated Facebook as the preferred social media technology to connect with universites during

the college search (see Figure 4). At 51.6%, university-hosted blogs was chosen as the second-

most desired social media outlet followed by YouTube (47.9%), instant messaging (41.7%), and

group chat sessions (34.9%).

Despite YouTube being the top social media technology used by prospective students, it is

interesting to note that Facebook was the top preferred by students for use in their college search.

Looking more specifically at the difference between question one and two (see Figure 5),

YouTube is the most underdesired technology when it comes to what prospective students use in

general versus what they want to use to connect with potential universites. The usage of

YouTube for students’ college search was 33% less than their usage in general, and MySpace

was also underutilized for students’ college search by 29.3% (see Figure 6a). Furthermore, only

blogs, group chats, message boards, and video podcasts were wanted more for their college

search than their personal use. In total, 91.7% of prospective students indicated that they want to

utilize some form of social media during their college search (compared to 98% total usage

shown in Figure 3).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 36

Figure 5. Social media technologies used in general versus social media technologies that prospective students want

to connect with universities during their college search.

Figure 6a. Social media technologies used to connect with universities minus those used in general by prospective

students (top seven varying results based on Figure 5).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 37

Figure 6b. Social media technologies used to connect with universities minus those used in general by prospective

students (bottom six varying results based on Figure 5).

Figure 7. Blog interactions among prospective university freshmen. n = 69 (185 respondents minus 116 that chose “I

have not looked at or interacted with a university-hosted blog”).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 38

3. Prospective student usage of university-hosted blogs. Next, the Prospective Student

Survey asked which social media technologies students actually used to interact with universities

during their college search for the fall 2009 semester. With regards to university hosted blogs, a

total of 69 respondents, 34.5% overall, indicated that they had some form of interaction with a

university-hosted blog (see Figure 7). 75.4% of these students reported reading blogs from

current students, and video blogs from current students were second-most popular at 40.6%.

21.7% of prospective students who interacted with university blogs read blogs from admission

counselors, and 15.9% watched video blogs from professors.

Overall, video blogs were used less than their traditional text counterparts for the three main

types surveyed: student, faculty, and admission staff blogs. Also of worthy note, 11.6% of

prospective students who interacted with university-hosted blogs posted a comment, and 4.3%

subscribed to a blog via RSS.

4. Prospective student usage of university-created Facebook Pages. Question four of the

Prospective Student Survey asked how prospective students were interacting with universities on

Facebook. Of the 179 respondents, 149 indicated that they are general users of Facebook, and

56.4% of those, have interacted with a university on Facebook (see Figure 8).

Figure 8. Percentage of students using facebook who did or did not interact with a university. n = 149 (179

respondents minus 30 who chose “I don’t use Facebook”).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 39

Figure 9. Type of interactions by prospective students interacting with universities on Facebook.

The most popular type of interactions between prospective students and universities on

Facebook were centered around university-created Facebook Pages. 89.3% of those interacting

with universities on Facebook have looked at a universty Facebook Page, 70.2% browsed photos

of a university, and 66.7% became “fans” of a university during their college search (see Figure

9). Other popular forms of interaction included participating in discussion boards (35.7%),

browsing videos (32.1%), and posting questions to other current students (29.8%) – all on

university Facebook Pages.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 40

5. Prospective student usage of university-created MySpace profiles. 88 survey respondents

indicated they use MySpace, and only 8% of those indicated they have ever interacted with a

university on MySpace (see Figure 10). Because the total number of prospective students

interacting with universities via MySpace was so low, it was deemed by this researcher

unnecessary to further breakdown the types of interactions as was done with Facebook in the

previous section.

Figure 10. Percentage of prospective students on MySpace that have/have not interacted with universties.

6. Comparing university interaction by prospective students on Facebook versus Myspace.

In performing a direct comparison of these interaction rates, it is clearly apparent

that Facebook is the dominant social network of choice for prospective students

during their college search. In a direct comparison of the two social networks,

Facebook is utilized during the college search seven times more (56.4% vs 8.0%)

than MySpace (table 1). Supported by documentation in Chapter 2, this data

confirms that Facebook is more likely to be used for prospective students’ college

search than MySpace.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 41

Table 1

Prospective student interaction rates – Facebook vs. MySpace

via via
Facebook MySpace
Interacted with a University 56.4% 8.0%
Did Not Interact with a University 43.6% 92.0%

7. Other social media interactions. Question six of the Prospective Student Survey inquired

what other forms of social media interactions prospective students had with universities. As

shown in Figure 11, the top three responses were reading postings on university message boards

(22.5%), participating in university-hosted group chat sessions (14.5%), and asking questions on

university message boards (11.5%).

Figure 11. Other university-based social media interactions (besides blogs, Facebook, and Myspace). n = 92.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 42

Admission offices.

Figure 12. Social Media Technologies used by admission offices. n = 70.

1. Social media technologies used by admission offices. From all 70 respondents to the

Admission Office Survey, 47 admission offices indicated that Facebook was, by far, the most

popular social media technology for reaching out to prospective students at a usage rate of

67.1% (see Figure 12). The second-most popular social media technologies were blogs, group

chat sessions, and Twitter – all at 40%, and both YouTube (37.1%) and instant messaging

(32.9%) were not far behind. Looking at other notable social media technologies, RSS was used

by 28.6% and MySpace was by 14.3% of students. Overall, 85.7% of admission offices currently

use social media.

2. Social media technologies to be implemented within the next 6-12 months. In

comparison to question one of the Admission Office Survey, question five investigated which

forms of social media would be adopted within the next 6-12 months. This data would provide

readers with an idea of the “future” of social media usage in admission offices as well as provide
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 43

a foundation of comparative analysis for later in this chapter. Twitter was determined to be the

most up-and-coming social media technology as 34.8% of admission offices indicated they were

planning to start using Twitter within the next 6-12 months (see Figure 13). Other popular forms

of social media scheduled for implementation included blogs from admission staff members

(27.5%), RSS feeds (26.1%), blogs from current students (23.2%), blogs from faculty (21.7%),

and Facebook Pages and profiles (21.7% and 17.4%, respectively). It should also be noted that

85.5% of university admission offices are planning to implement some form of social media

within the next 6-12 months (see Figure 14).

Figure 13. Social media technologies to be implemented by admission offices in the next 6-12 months. n = 69.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 44

Figure 14. Percentage of admission offices planning to implement some form of social media in the next 6-12 months.

n = 69.

Prospective students vs. admission offices.

Figure 15. Social media technologies wanted by prospective students during their college search versus social

media used by admission offices.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 45

Figure 16a. Amount of social media usage by admission offices minus the percentage wanted by prospective

students broken down by social media type (top seven varying results).

Figure 16b. Amount of social media usage by admission offices minus the percentage wanted by prospective

students broken down by social media type (bottom six varying results).

After initial profiles of both the prospective student and admission office populations were

established, this researcher was able to construct a visual comparison between the social media

technologies wanted by prospective students for their college search and those currently in use
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 46

by university admission offices (see Figure 15). At first glance, one can easily notice a

significant disconnect between the forms of social media used by admission offices and those

desired by college-seeking students. Furthermore, these disconnects exist in situations where

admission offices are both over and underperforming against the preferences of prospective

students.

The most significant disconnect exists with admission offices’ usage of Twitter, RSS, and

message boards (see Figure 16a). Currently, 40% of universities are utilizing Twitter compared

to 15.1% of students who indicated an interest in using the micro-blogging site during their

college search (a disconnect of 24.9%), more than any other form of social media. The second-

most overused social media technology is RSS at 24.4% (28.6% of admission offices vs. 4.2%

wanted by students).

Following the overutilized Twitter and RSS, four other forms of social media were shown to

have a significant disconnect between prospective students and admission offices; however,

these four were underutilized by admission offices based on the preferences of the prospective

student population. At a disconnect of 24.2%, message boards were found to be the most absent

from the social media arsenal of admission offices. Blogs (11.6%), video podcasts (11.4%), and

YouTube (10.8) were also utilized significantly less than student expectations.

Overall, of the 13 social media technologies referenced in the survey question, six

technologies (46.2%) showed a significant disconnect (variance of 10% or more) between the

social media technologies used by admission offices and those preferred by prospective students

during their college search. In addition 10 social media technologies showed marginal (5-10%)

or significant disconnect between the two populations (see Figure 17).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 47

Figure 17. Dispursement of disconnect based on level of variance between social media technologies offered by

admission offices and those desired by prospective students during their college search. Disconnect is measured by

the absolute value of the variance (e.g. -24.2% variance for message boards = disconnect of 24.2%).

Impact of Social Media on University Applications & Enrollment

In this section, results from the two surveys will be presented as they pertain to the impact of

social media technologies on both the applicant stage as well as the enrollment stage of the

admission funnel. This division was created in response to the varying nature of the two stages

within the admission funnel and should provide insight on any difference of effectiveness of

social media has at the applicant and enrollment stages.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 48

Impact on university applications.

Table 2

Impact of social media technologies on prospective students’ decision to apply (unweighted)

Positive Negative
Social Media Technology* n Influence No Impact Influence
University podcasts 9 88.9% 11.1% 0.0%
IM with admission counselors 13 84.6% 15.4% 0.0%
A university MySpace profile 6 83.3% 16.7% 0.0%
University group chat sessions 27 74.1% 25.9% 0.0%
A university Twitter feed 6 66.7% 33.3% 0.0%
University message boards 42 64.3% 35.7% 0.0%
A university Facebook Page 73 57.5% 42.5% 0.0%
University blogs on their website 47 57.4% 42.6% 0.0%

1. Prospective student response. Question seven of the Prospective Student Survey asked

which forms of social media used by the university(ies) they applied had in impact on their

overall decision to apply. Respondents were asked to indicate the influence of each social media

technology as having either “a positive influence”, “no impact”, “a negative influence” or if the

form of social media was “the deciding factor in [their] decision to apply”. Since respondents

were only able to chose one option for each social media technology listed, the “positive

influence” and “deciding factors” choices were treated as one response for “positive influence”.

Also, because the SurveyMonkey technology had limited technical options, all respondents were

able to answer question seven. However, to ensure the integrety of this study and its results, only

responses from respondents who actually indicated use of the various social media technologies

in questions as indicated in questions three through six were reported in this section.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 49

Table 2 highlights that all eight social media technologies surveyed in question seven had a

positive impact of 57.4% or higher on students’ decision to apply. “University podcasts” (which

includes both video and audio) had the highest impact on student applications at a positive

influence level of 88.9% followed by instant messaging with admission counselors at 84.6% and

MySpace profiles at 83.3%.

Table 2 on its own only presents the influence level without any regard for how many

students are actually utilizing the various forms of social media. Thus, to accurately judge the

impact of these social media technologies on application levels, it is necessary to weight the

influence of each technology against its usage by prospective students. The most appropriate

way to account for both the influence and the usage together is to weight both against each other

to derive a true level of impact on applications – the “Application Impact Factor”.

Table 3

Impact of social media technologies on prospective students’ decision to apply (weighted); Positive Influence times

Usage = Application Impact Factor

Positive Application Impact


Social Media Technology* Influence Usage Factor
A university Facebook Page 57.5% 42.5% 0.245
University blogs on their website 57.4% 34.5% 0.198
University message boards 64.3% 28.0% 0.180
University group chat sessions 74.1% 14.5% 0.107
IM with admission counselors 84.6% 7.5% 0.063
University podcasts 88.9% 7.0% 0.062
A university MySpace profile 83.3% 4.0% 0.033
A university Twitter feed 66.7% 3.0% 0.020

To calculate the Application Impact Factor (AIF), the level of positive influence was

multiplied by the percent of usage derived from Prospective Student Survey questions three
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 50

through six (see Table 3). Ultimately, Facebook was determined to have the highest impact on

students’ decision to apply with an AIF of 0.245. This contrasts greatly with the initial reporting

th
of influence in Table 2 where Facebook was ranked 7 most influential and demonstrates that

influence of a specific form of social media is irrelevant if it is not widely used among

prospective students.

Following Facebook, blogs (AIF = 0.198), message boards (AIF = .18), and group chat

sessions (AIF = 0.107) were also found to have a significant impact on students’ likelihood to

apply to a university (“significant impact” indicated by AIF of 0.1/10% or greater). Instant

messaging, podcasts (both audio and video), and MySpace were found to have only a marginal

impact (AIF between 3.1%/0.031 and 10%/0.1) on applications, and Twitter was the only

social media found to have an insignificant impact (0.1%/0.001 – 3%/.03).

It should also be noted that out of all survey respondents, there were zero responses that any

form of social media had a negative impact on prospective students’ decisions to apply to a

university. That plus the high rates of positive impact denote to this researcher that social media

does indeed have a positive impact on applications.

2. Admission office response. Similar to question seven of the Prospective Student Survey,

question three of the Admission Office Survey asked the impact of various social media

technologies on application numbers. Admission office respondents were given answer choices

“very positive influence”, “somewhat positive influence”, “no impact”, “somewhat negative

influence”, “very negative influence”, “no data available”, and “do not use”. Respondents were

only able to select one choice for each type of social media, and positive and negative influence

was ascertained by adding the “very positive/negative” and “somewhat positive/negative”

responses.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 51

Table 4

Impact of social media technologies on freshman applications (unweighted) as reported by admission offices; out of

all 70 respondents there were none that had data on their usage of message boards, and thus message boards

was ommitted

Positive No Negative
Social Media Technology n Influence Impact Influence
Podcasting – Audio 5 100.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Podcasting - Video 2 100.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Blogging – Student blogs 10 90.0% 10.0% 0.0%
Group Chat Sessions 15 86.7% 0.0% 13.3%
YouTube 13 84.6% 15.4% 0.0%
Twitter 10 80.0% 20.0% 0.0%
Instant Messaging 13 76.9% 23.1% 0.0%
Facebook Profiles 17 76.5% 23.5% 0.0%
Blogging – Admission staff blogs 4 75.0% 25.0% 0.0%
Facebook Pages 20 75.0% 25.0% 0.0%
RSS 11 54.5% 45.5% 0.0%
MySpace 6 50.0% 33.3% 16.7%
Social Bookmarking 4 50.0% 50.0% 0.0%
Blogging – Faculty blogs 3 33.3% 66.7% 0.0%
LinkedIn 1 0.0% 100.0% 0.0%

Blogs - all
(Student/Faculty/Admission Staff) 17 76.5% 23.5% 0.0%
Facebook (Pages & Profiles) 37 75.7% 24.3% 0.0%

Table 4 shows the influence of various social media technologies as reported by respondents to

the Admission Office Survey. For each form of social media, only the respondents who

indicated positive, negative, or no influence were recognized – thus excluding those who did not

use the respective social media or had no data to answer the question. Additionally, separate

results were identified for the cumulative results of Facebook (pages & profiles) and blogs

(student, faculty, and staff blogs).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 52

Out of all social media technologies surveyed, both audio and video podcasting were shown to

have a positive influence level of 100%, while student blogs and group chat sessions were

determined to have a 90% and 86.7% positive influence on applications, respectively. Also, as seen

with the prospective student population, there was barely any negative influence from social media

on applications except in isolated responses about MySpace and group chat sessions.

Table 5

Impact of social media technologies on prospective students’ decision to apply (weighted) as reported by admission

offices; Positive Influence x Usage = Application Impact Factor

Application
Social Media Technology Positive Influence Usage Impact Factor
Facebook Pages 75.0% 62.9% 0.472
Facebook Profiles 76.5% 54.3% 0.415
Group Chat Sessions 86.7% 40.0% 0.347
Blogging – Student blogs 90.0% 35.7% 0.321
Twitter 80.0% 40.0% 0.320
YouTube 84.6% 37.1% 0.314
Instant Messaging 76.9% 32.9% 0.253
RSS 54.5% 28.6% 0.156
Podcasting – Audio 100.0% 14.3% 0.143
Podcasting - Video 100.0% 10.0% 0.100
Blogging – Admission staff blogs 75.0% 12.9% 0.097
MySpace 50.0% 14.3% 0.072
Blogging – Faculty blogs 33.3% 12.9% 0.043
Social Bookmarking 50.0% 8.6% 0.043
LinkedIn 0.0% 2.9% 0.000

Facebook (Pages & Profiles) 75.7% 67.1% 0.508


Blogs – All
(Student/Faculty/Admission Staff) 76.5% 40.0% 0.306
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 53

However, it was necessary to weight the positive influence levels against each social media’s

own usage to determine its AIF. This was done in the same manner as with the results from

question seven of the Prospective Student Survey, and the level of positive influence was

multiplied by the percent of usage (see Table 5).

Table 5 reports that the two forms of social media with the highest impact on freshman

applications, as reported by admission offices, are Facebook Pages (AIF = 0.472) and Facebook

profiles (AIF = 0.415) – a cumulative AIF for Facebook of 0.508. Rounding out the top five

most impacting social media technologies were group chat sessions (AIF = 0.347), student blogs

(0.321), and Twitter (AIF = 0.32). In total, 10 out of the 15 social media technologies in question

(66.6%) had a significant impact (AIF = 0.1/10% or greater) on applications, four had a marginal

impact (AIF = 0.031/3.1% to .1/10%), and only LinkedIn was shown to have no impact (AIF =

0) on freshman applications.

3. Comparison of prospective student and admission office responses. After the Application

Impact Factor (AIF) was calculated and analyzed for the prospective student and admission

office populations, a ranking of social media technologies was established using the AIF values

in ascending order (where one was assigned to the social media with the highest AIF). This

ranking was established, as opposed to a direct comparison of AIF numbers, due to the failry

high variance in AIF scores. The ranking of message boards for the admission office population

was excluded as none of the respondents to Admission Office Survey had any data on its

effectiveness.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 54

Table 6

Application Impact Factor, compared between prospective students and admission offices by rank

Social Media Technology Student AIF Rank Admission Office AIF Rank
Blogs 2 4
Facebook 1 1
Group Chat Sessions 4 2
Instant Messaging 5 5
Message Boards 3 -
MySpace 7 7
Podcasts 6 6
Twitter 8 3

The AIF ranking comparison, shown in Table 6, indicates that the order of AIF scores among

the two populations are fairly consistent with one another, thus confirming the relative validity of

the responses from prospective students and admission offices. In most cases, the ranks for each

form of social media only differed by two positions or they were identical to each other.

However, Twitter was ranked lowest in AIF from the prospective student data, yet, it was

the third-most impacting social media as reported by admission offices – a difference of five

rank positions between the two poulations. This could signify a serious disconnect between

admission offices and prospective students, or it could be possible that admission offices have

incorrect data tracking with respect to Twitter.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 55

Impact on university enrollment.

Table 7

Impact of social media technologies on prospective students’ decision to enroll (unweighted)

Positive No
Social Media Technology* n Influence Difference Negative Influence
A university MySpace profile 4 100.0% 0.0% 0.0%
IM with admission counselors 10 80.0% 20.0% 0.0%
University podcasts 8 75.0% 25.0% 0.0%
University group chat sessions 19 73.7% 26.3% 0.0%
University message boards 31 58.1% 41.9% 0.0%
University blogs on their website 40 55.0% 45.0% 0.0%
A university Facebook Page 69 52.2% 47.8% 0.0%
A university Twitter feed 6 33.3% 66.7% 0.0%

1. Prospective student response. Question nine of the Prospective Student Survey asked

which forms of social media used by the universities they applied had an impact on their overall

decision to enroll (as opposed to their decision to apply in question seven). Respondents were

asked to indicate the influence of each social media technology as having either “a positive

influence”, “no impact”, “a negative influence” or if the form of social media was “the deciding

factor in [their] decision to apply”. Since respondents were only able to chose one option for

each social media technology listed, the “positive influence” and “deciding factors” choices were

treated as one response for “positive influence”. Again, to ensure the integrety of this study and

its results, only responses from respondents who actually indicated use of the various social

media technologies in questions as indicated in questions three through six were reported in this

section.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 56

Table 7 identifies MySpace and instant messaging to be the most influencial on prospective

students’ decision to enroll at levels of 100% and 80%, respectively. Other top influencers

included podcasts (75%), group chat sessions (73.7%), and message boards (58.1%).

Table 8

Impact of social media technologies on prospective students’ decision to enroll (weighted); Positive Influence times

Usage = Enrollment Impact Factor

Positive Enrollment Impact


Social Media Technology Influence Usage Factor
A university Facebook Page 52.2% 42.5% 0.222
University blogs on their website 55.0% 34.5% 0.190
University message boards 58.1% 28.0% 0.163
University group chat sessions 73.7% 14.5% 0.107
IM with admission counselors 80.0% 7.5% 0.060
University podcasts 75.0% 7.0% 0.053
A university MySpace profile 100.0% 4.0% 0.040
A university Twitter feed 33.3% 3.0% 0.010

However, once the positive influence responses are weighted against each social media’s

usage, the Enrollment Impact Factor (EIF) tells a much different story. Identical to the

Application Impact Factor (AIF), the EIF is calculated by multiplying positive influence

and usage. This, in turn, cancels out the disproportion created from influence responses of

underutilized forms of social media (e.g. MySpace – 4% usage).

Facebook, once again, reigns supreme with the highest EIF (0.222) among surveyed social

media technologies (see Table 8). After Facebook, blogs (EIF = 0.19), message boards (0.163),

and group chat sessions (0.107) were all found to have a significant impact (EIF = 0.1/10% or

greater). Instant messaging, podcasts (both audio and video), and MySpace were found to have
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 57

only a marginal impact (EIF between 3.1%/o.031 and 10%/0.1) on enrollment, and Twitter

was the only social media found to have an insignificant impact (0.1%/0.001 – 3%/.03).

Table 9

Influence of social media technologies on freshman enrollment (unweighted) as reported by admission offices

# with Positive No Negative


Social Media Technology Data Influence Impact Impact
Podcasting - Video 1 100.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Instant Messaging 13 92.3% 7.7% 0.0%
Blogging – Student blogs 7 85.7% 14.3% 0.0%
Twitter 7 85.7% 14.3% 0.0%
Group Chat Sessions 13 76.9% 15.4% 7.7%
Blogging – Admission staff blogs 4 75.0% 25.0% 0.0%
Facebook Profiles 12 75.0% 25.0% 0.0%
Facebook Pages 15 73.3% 26.7% 0.0%
YouTube 11 72.7% 27.3% 0.0%
Blogging – Faculty blogs 2 50.0% 50.0% 0.0%
Podcasting – Audio 2 50.0% 0.0% 50.0%
MySpace 4 25.0% 50.0% 25.0%
Social Bookmarking 4 25.0% 75.0% 0.0%
RSS 9 22.2% 77.8% 0.0%
LinkedIn 1 0.0% 100.0% 0.0%

Blogs Total 13 76.9% 23.1% 0.0%


Facebook Total 27 74.1% 25.9% 0.0%
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 58

Table 10

Admission office respondents: Impact of social media technologies on prospective students’ decision to apply

(weighted); Positive Influence x Usage = Application Impact Factor

Positive Enrollment
Social Media Technology Influence Usage Impact Factor
Facebook Pages 73.3% 62.9% 0.461
Facebook Profiles 75.0% 54.3% 0.407
Twitter 85.7% 40.0% 0.343
Group Chat Sessions 76.9% 40.0% 0.308
Blogging – Student blogs 85.7% 35.7% 0.306
Instant Messaging 92.3% 32.9% 0.304
YouTube 72.7% 37.1% 0.270
Podcasting - Video 100.0% 10.0% 0.100
Blogging – Admission staff blogs 75.0% 12.9% 0.097
Podcasting – Audio 50.0% 14.3% 0.072
Blogging – Faculty blogs 50.0% 12.9% 0.065
RSS 22.2% 28.6% 0.064
MySpace 25.0% 14.3% 0.036
Social Bookmarking 25.0% 8.6% 0.022
LinkedIn 0.0% 2.9% 0.000

Facebook - All 76.9% 67.1% 0.516


Blogs - All 74.1% 40.0% 0.296

2. Admission office response. Similar to question nine of the Prospective Student Survey,

question four of the Admission Office Survey asked the impact of various social media

technologies on freshman enrollment. Admission office respondents were given answer choices

“very positive influence”, “somewhat positive influence”, “no impact”, “somewhat negative

influence”, “very negative influence”, “no data available”, and “do not use”. Respondents were

only able to select one choice for each type of social media, and positive and negative influence

was ascertained by adding the “very positive/negative” and “somewhat positive/negative”

responses.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 59

Table 9 shows the influence of various social media technologies as reported by respondents

to the Admission Office Survey. For each form of social media, only the respondents who

indicated positive, negative, or no influence were recognized – thus excluding those who did

not use the respective social media or had no data to answer the question. Additionally, separate

results were identified for the cumulative results of Facebook (pages & profiles) and blogs

(student, faculty, and staff blogs).

Out of all social media technologies surveyed, video podcasting and instant messaging were

shown to have a positive influence level of 100% and 92.3% respectively (see Table 9).

Rounding out the top four was student blogs and Twitter – both with positive influence levels of

85.7%. Also, as seen with the prospective student population, there was barely any negative

influence from social media on applications except in isolated reports around MySpace, group

chat sessions and audio podcasting.

Upon calculating the Enrollment Impact Factor in Table 10, the two forms of social media

with the highest impact on freshman applications, as reported by admission offices, are

Facebook Pages (AIF = 0.461) and Facebook profiles (AIF = 0.407). Rounding out the top five

most impacting social media technologies were Twitter (0.343), group chat sessions (AIF =

0.308), and student blogs (0.306). In total, 8 out of the 15 social media technologies in question

(53.3%) were shown to have a significant impact (AIF = 0.1/10% or greater) on applications,

five had a marginal impact (AIF = 0.031/3.1% to .1/10%), and only LinkedIn was shown to have

no impact (AIF = 0) on freshman applications.

3. Comparison of prospective student and admission office responses. After the Enrollment

Impact Factor (EIF) was calculated and analyzed for the prospective student and admission

office populations, a ranking of social media technologies was established using the EIF values
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 60

in ascending order (where one was assigned to the social media with the highest EIF). This

ranking was established, as opposed to a direct comparison of EIF numbers, due to the high

variance in EIF scores. The ranking of message boards for the admission office population was

excluded as none of the respondents to Admission Office Survey had any data on its

effectiveness.

Table 11

Enrollment Impact Factor compared between prospective students and admission offices by rank

Social Media Technology Student EIF Rank Admission Office EIF Rank
Blogs 2 5
Facebook 1 1
Group Chat Sessions 4 3
Instant Messaging 5 4
Message Boards 3 -
MySpace 7 7
Podcasts 6 6
Twitter 8 2

The EIF ranking comparison, shown in Table 11, indicates that the order of EIF scores

among the two populations are fairly consistent with one another, thus confirming again the

relative validity of the responses from prospective students and admission offices. In most cases,

the ranks for each form of social media only differed by two or three positions or they were

identical to each other.

However, Twitter was ranked lowest again in EIF from the prospective student data, yet, it

was the second-most impacting social media as reported by admission offices – a difference of

six rank positions between the two.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 61

Facebook Communications and Interactions

As documented in Chapter 2 and proven throughout this chapter, Facebook is one of the

prime forms of social media for interactions and communications between universities and

prospective students. This section analyzes the the types of interactions between the two

populations with respect to what prospective students want versus what universities actually

do on Facebook.

1. What prospective students want. Question 10 of the Prospective Student Survey asked

respondents to chose which kinds of communications and interactions they wanted to have with

universities during their college search. Where appropriate, a division was made between private

and public forms of communication. The answer choices are as follows:

 Adding admission counselors as friends

 Invitations to admission events

 Posts on wall about how to apply for admission

 Private messages about how to apply for admission

 Posts on wall about missing docs/completing your application

 Private messages about missing docs/completing your application

 Posts on your wall about being accepted

 Private messages about being accepted

 None of the above, but I want to be contacted only if I contact an

admission counselor first.

 None of the above, and I do not want a university to contact me directly

through Facebook for anything.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 62

The most popular option was receiving invitations to admission events, which was preferred

by 65.1% of respondents (see Figure 18). The next three most popular response were all private

messages (PM): PM about missing documents/completing the application (53.9%), PM

acceptance notices (41.4%), and PMs telling students houw to apply to a university (38.2%).

Also of interest, 30.3% of respondents indicated that they would want admission counselors to

add them as a friend.

Figure 18. Types of Facebook communications and interactions wanted by prospective students. n = 152.

After analyzing the results of question 10, it was clear that there was also an overwhelming

trend of students preferring private communications to public communications (see Figure 19).

In the three instances where a type of communication was split into private and public,

prospective students chose the private option two to five times more than public messages (see

Table 12). This indicates a clear message from prospective students saying that they do indeed
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 63

want colleges to communicate with them on Facebook, but they strongly prefer private

communications.

Figure 19. Preference of prospective students to receive private messages versus public messages on Facebook.

Table 13

Difference between private and public message preferences of students on Facebook

Wall Posts FB Message


Type of Communication (Public) (Private) Difference
Info on How to Apply 11.8% 38.2% +323.7%
Missing Docs & Completing the
Application 11.2% 53.9% +481.3%
Acceptance Notices 23.0% 41.4% +180.0%
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 64

2. What universities do. Question four of the Admission Office Survey asked respondents

to chose which kinds of communications and interactions their university had with prospective

students. The answer choices were identical to that of question 10 of the Prospective Student

survey:

 Admission counselors adding prospective students as friends

 Invitations to admission events

 Posts on wall about how to apply for admission

 Private messages about how to apply for admission

 Posts on wall about missing docs/completing the application

 Private messages about missing docs/completing the applications

 Posts on wall about being accepted

 Private messages about being accepted

 None of the above, but our admission office will contact a student if they

initiate contact first.

 None of the above, and our admission office has no direct contact with

students on Facebook.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 65

Figure 20. Types of Facebook communications and interactions done by universities. n = 59.

Looking at what communications and interactions universities have with prospective students

in Figure 20, there is only one major interaction – inviting students to admission events (54.2%).

At 18.6%, admission counselors adding prospective students as friends and private messages to

students on how to apply are tied for second, but there are no other major interactions initiated by

admission offices via Facebook.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 66

Figure 21. Facebook communications & interactions – what prospective students want vs. what universities do.

Figure 22. Percent of interactions by universites minus percent of interactions wanted by prospective students.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 67

3. Comparison of admission office and prospective student responses. Looking at a

direct comparison of answers from both population, it is clear that there are significant

disconnects between prospective students and admission offices with respect to which types of

communications and interactions are preferred by prospective students (see Figure 21). After

subtracting the expectations of prospective students from the actions of univerties, as shown in

Figure 22, all but one of the eight forms of communications/interactions showed definite

differences between the two populations (7.8% or more).

According to respondents, the biggest disconnect was the amount of private messages about

missing documents and completing students’ applications. 53.9% of prospective students

indicated they wanted private messages regarding how to complete their application, while

only 10.2% of universities are doing so – an overwhelming difference of 43.7%. The second

and third-most differing responses were about acceptance notifications with a 36.3%

difference/disconnect for private accept notices and 21.3% for public ones. In all, six of the

eight forms of communication/interaction (75%) showed a significant disconnect (10% or

higher) between admission offices and students.

Other General Trends

While parts one, two, and three of this chapter focused directly on the primary hypotheses

of this study, there remained a wealth of data from the rest of this study. The general findings

presented in this section consist of two parts: 1) responses of additional questions within the two

surveys and 2) salient observations from this researcher. These additional offerings are intended
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 68

to suppliment the findings presented earlier in this chapter and provide further insight into the

survey populations and their responses.

In effect, the following findings will help readers understand “why” prospective students

and admission offices responded as they did.

Additional survey responses – prospective students’ intercations with current students

via Facebook.

Questions 11-14 of the Prospective Student Survey asked respondents if they had direct

contact with current students prior to applying and enrolling at a university. If students incated

“Yes,” they were presented a follow-up question asking about the impact of “reaching out to a

current university student” on their decision to apply and enroll.

Figure 23. Percent of prospective students who have reached out to a current university student on Facebook before

applying to that university. n = 152


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 69

Figure 24. Impact of communicating with a current student on decision to apply (prior to applying) . n = 60 (only

those who responded “Yes” to question 11).

152 prospective students answered question 11 and 60 respondents (39.5%) indicated they

had communicated with a current university student before deciding to apply (see Figure 23).

The 60 respondents were then presented with question 12 which ascertained the impact of

communicating with a current student on their decision to apply to that university. Prospective

students were given four options: “This was the deciding factor in my decision to apply”, “It

had a positive influence on my decision to apply”, “It had no impact on my decision to apply”,

and “It had a negative impact on my decision to apply.”

One respondent (1.67%) indicated their communication with a current student was the

deciding factor, 45 respondents (75%) reported that it had a positive impact on their decision to

apply, 12 students (20%) indicated no impact, and only two prospective students (3.33%)

indicated a negative impact (see Figure 24).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 70

Figure 25. Percent of prospective students that reached out to a current university student to get their opinion about

that university after applying, but before deciding to attend. n = 153.

Figure 26. Impact of communicating with a current student on decision to attend (after applying, but before deciding

to attend) . n = 49 (only those who responded “Yes” to question 13).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 71

153 prospective students answered question 13 and 49 respondents (32%) indicated they had

communicated with a current university student after applying but before deciding to attend

(see Figure 25). The 49 respondents were then presented with question 14 gauging the impact

of communicating with a current student on their decision to attend to that university. Like

question 12, prospective students were given four options: “This was the deciding factor in my

decision to attend”, “It had a positive influence on my decision to attend”, “It had no impact on

my decision to attend”, and “It had a negative impact on my decision to attend.”

This time, five respondents (10.2%) indicated their communication with a current student

was the deciding factor in their decision to enroll, 33 respondents (67.3%) reported that it had a

positive impact on their decision to apply, 9 students (18.4%) indicated no impact, and again,

only two prospective students (4.1%) indicated a negative impact (see Figure 26). When

considering “deciding factor” as an alternate response for “positive impact”, it can be concluded

that, in total, 77.5% of respondents indicated that talking to current students through Facebook

had a positive impact on their decision to attend.

Additional survey responses – admission office management of social media usage.

Questions 8-10 of the Admission Office Survey intended to gain insight about how social

media used within the enrollment management function of universites. These questions

investigate social media strategy, recruitment goals, and usage of data capture technologies.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 72

Figure 27. “Does your admission office have a strategy regarding the usage of social media technologies in the

recruiting process?” n = 70.

Question seven asked if admission offices “have a strategy regarding the usage of social

media technologies in the recruiting process.” Out of the 60 admission offices that use social

media, 13 (21.7%) had a social media strategy, while an overwhelming 78.3% did not (see

Figure 27).

Figure 28. “Does your admission office have any specific recruitment goals with respect to social media? (i.e. is there

a goal number of inquiries, applicants, etc. that should come from social media initiatives?)” n = 60.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 73

Question nine asked admission offices if they had any specific recruitment goals tied to their

social media efforts. Virtually all admission offices, 96.7%, responded “No”, and only two

(3.3%) had specific recruitment goals for their usage of social media (see Figure 28).

Figure 29. “Does your admission office use any data capture technologies that allow you to track and quantify the

number of students entering your admission funnel from your social media initiatives? (i.e. are you able to track

the students that come directly from social media sources like Facebook?)” n = 60.

Question 10 asked if admission offices had any data capture technologies allowing them to

track students that enter their admission funnel from social media initiatives. Only 10

respondents (16.7%) were able to track and quantify students from social media sources, and

the other 50 admission offices (83.3%) were not (see Figure 29).
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 74

Additional survey reponses – social media usage outside of the admission office.

Figure 30. Social media technologies used by non-admission university offices vs. those wanted by prospective

students to keep in touch with their university when they become a student.

Taking a brief look beyond admission, prospective students were asked which form of

social media they would most like to use once they become a student, and admission offices

were asked which forms of social media were in use by other non-admission departments at their

university to communicate to current students. This would determine any potential social media

relationship between university admission offices and student life/services offices. The

assumption of this research was that if there was a demand from students that exceeded what

was being offered by universities, the usage of those forms social media by admission offices

could serve as a bridge to connecting with current students. However, with a slight excpetion of

admission staff blogs, there were no social media technologies with heavier demand than what

universities were already offering (see Figure 30).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 75

Additional survey reponses – customization of social media content for inquiry-specific

and applicant-specific populations.

Question two of the Admission Office Survey was exploratory in nature, and asked if

admission offices were posting content/communications on various social media sites that

targeted inquiries, applicants, or both. Among the 60 admission offices utilizing social media,

there was a total of 285 unique implementations of social media (averaging almost five types of

social media used by each school using social media).

While 82.8% of the social media implementations had content/communications targeting both

inquiries and applicants, it was found that 17.2% of admission-based social media is targeted

towards inquiry-specific and applicant-specific populations (see Figure 31).

Figure 31. Percentage of social media technologies used by admission offices with respect to the content offered

targeting inquiries, applicants, or both.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 76

Other Trends & Patterns Observed by the Researcher

1. User-generated content. During the analysis of question one of the Prospective Student

Survey, it was discovered that 15.5% of prospective students write their own blogs and 12%

create and upload videos to YouTube (see Figure 32).

Figure 32. Percentage of prospective students creating user-generated content.

2. Do prospective students know which university they will attend in fall of 2009? As a

qualifier for question nine of the Prospective Student Survey, question eight asked prospective

students if they knew which college they would be attending in fall of 2009 (only respondents

that answered “Yes” were allowed to answer question nine). 88.5% responded that they knew,

6.4% indicated “no”, and 5.1% said they were no longer planning on attending college that

fall (see Figure 33).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 77

Figure 33. Percentage of prospective students that knew which college they were attending for the fall 2009

semester as of the date they completed the Prospective Student Survey.

3. Social media as a deciding factor for applying and enrolling. Table 12 presents the

total “deciding factor” responses from questions seven and nine in the Prospective

Student Survey. These numbers represent which social media technologies were

the most influential in prospective students’ decisions to apply and enroll (see

Table 12). The most deciding forms of social media at the applicant level were

MySpace (5.5%), group chat sessions (4.6%), and message boards/podcasts

(4.5%). At the enrollment level, instant messaging (IM) was indicated as the most

deciding social media technology at 8.8%. Following IM was group chat sessions

(8.1%) and message boards (7.1%).


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 78

Table 12

Social media as a deciding factor for applications vs. enrollment

Social Media Technology as a Deciding Factor Applications Enrollment Enr - App


A university Facebook Page 4.0% 6.7% 40.6%
A university MySpace profile 5.5% 6.4% 14.5%
University blogs on their website 2.3% 4.2% 45.6%
Instant messaging with admission counselors 4.3% 8.8% 51.1%
University message boards 4.5% 7.1% 37.1%
University group chat sessions 4.6% 8.3% 44.8%
University podcasts/video podcasts 4.5% 3.6% -25.4%
A university Twitter feed 3.6% 4.2% 14.3%

Looking at the difference between deciding factors at the applicant and enrollment level,

seven of the eight social media technologies were more “deciding” when it came time for

students to enroll. Thus, it can be concluded that social media, as a whole, has a more decisive

impact on students at the enrollment phase of the admission funnel.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the top three deciding forms of social media at the

enrollment stage was IM, group chat sessions, and message boards – all social media

formats centered around person-to-person communication. As a result, personal social media

interactions between admission counselors and prospective students are more effective at

converting applicants to enrolled students.

4. Admission offices’ current social media usage plus future anticipated use. Looking at

the combined current and future usage of social media in Figure 34 (and assuming that university

admission offices follow through with their plans), it is projected that by July of 2010,

approximately 95% of university admission offices across the country will have a presence on

Facebook (see Figure 35). Furthermore, blogs and Twitter initiatives will be in use by 85% and

75% of colleges, respectively.


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 79

Figure 34. Current number of admission offices using social media plus future use. (LinkedIn = 2 current + 2 future)

Even more remarkable, out of the 10 universities that indicated no current use of social media

in question one of the Admission Office Survey, 8 of them (80%) are planning to implement

some form of social media in the next 6-12 months (see Figure 35). This means that by July of

2010, 97% of admission offices will be utilizing social media.


Figure 35. Breakdown of universities’ current and future usage of social media.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 80

Table 13

Raw data of admission offices’ usage of social media (current & future); * = denotes # of admission offices

Current Future Usage*


Social Media Technology Usage* (6‐12 months) total total %
Facebook Pages 44 15 59 84.30%
Twitter 28 24 52 74.30%
Facebook Profiles 38 12 50 71.40%
Blogging – Student blogs 25 19 44 62.90%
RSS 20 18 38 54.30%
YouTube 26 12 38 54.30%
Group Chat Sessions 28 8 36 51.40%
Instant Messaging 23 4 27 38.60%
Blogging – Faculty blogs 9 16 25 35.70%
Blogging – Admission staff blogs 9 15 24 34.30%
MySpace 10 8 18 25.70%
Podcasting - Video 7 9 16 22.90%
Podcasting – Audio 10 5 15 21.40%
Social Bookmarking 6 9 15 21.40%
Message Boards 5 5 10 14.30%
LinkedIn 2 2 4 5.70%

Figure 36. Cumulative representation of current and future usage of social media in admission offices broken down

by type of social media. (Facebook = pages + profiles & blogs = student/faculty/adm staff)
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 81

5) Other thoughts on social media for prospective students’ college search.

Prospective student responses. The following are notable prospective student responses to

question 16 of the Prospective Student Survey, “do you have any comments or thoughts about

universities using social media (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, etc.) to connect with prospective

students like you?”

 “I log onto my [Facebook Page] at least twice a day, and having alerts and other helpful

information from my university on my Facebook will lead me to pay more attention and

progress as well as remembering things.”

 “I do not agree with using social media such as [Facebook], [MySpace] etc. to contact

students. The thought of the admission office telling students they are accepted to a university

via [Facebook] is completely ridiculous. I think contact between a student and the university

should be done through regular mail, email or phone only.”

 “I think it’s a great thing to be more connected with students.”

 “…‘posting to my wall’ as one of the questions suggested, would be too much, I'd

be afraid my privacy would be eclipsed in lieu of staying informed.”

 “It makes me feel comfortable towards applying to the schools who keep in touch with

me, giving me confidence towards them being interested in me.”

 “[Social media makes] it easier to get answers about schools and talking to counselors for

help.”

 “I think that using [social media] is fine, but putting certain messages up should be kept

private. I doubt all my friends want to see that ‘X University’ has told me to apply in this

way. I wouldn't mind getting good news, like if I've been accepted, because I would want
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to share that, but other things people don't really need to see. Also, getting rejected on

Facebook would probably be humiliating, so keep that to private messaging as well.

 “For me, Facebook helped more when I was wondering what a school's social life was

like. It was nice to get on that particular school's Facebook page and look at the pictures that

students had posted from events they had attended. Not to say that the school websites didn't

help me. School websites just helped more with the facts and figures, not so much the student's

social life. Basically, Facebook pages help out a little more when you want to know if this could

be a place that you could fit in well. Universities should continue using social media.”

 “I find universities that use social media to be very personable, which is an attractive

character in a university. For most cases in my experience, it provides a very clear and honest

picture. Very few times has it ever been deceiving. So, I would encourage it in small amounts,

but not to excessive amounts. I personally still value the traditional methods of the college

search/experience important.”

 “While I wouldn't mind (and would actually enjoy) a university contacting me via

Facebook or social networking, it would be only under the condition that all of said contact is

through private means only (i.e. no wall posts, only private messages) and should probably

include an option to not communicate by social networking should the student desire.”

 “I think that it is great that universities/colleges are using social networking sites to reach

their students. While I personally think that is a positive and a necessity for the future,

colleges need to know their boundaries with their students and respect their students’

privacy.”
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• “I have come to use Facebook solely for all of my college stuff.”

Admission office responses. The following are notable admission office responses to

question 11 of the Admission Office Survey, “do you have any other thoughts or comments

regarding the usage or results of social media in university admissions?”

 “[Our] use of social media should be about pulling together our online presence rather

than jumping on trendy bandwagons, which may put us at risk of putting resources into

something that results in very little return (e.g. focus groups have shown that our prospective

students are not yet using twitter so at the moment, this is not an appropriate place to be).”

 “[Our] concern is keeping content fresh.”

 “I realize the importance of social media well "adding" the use of social media but

it's difficult to find the time - our office only has 2 people (one part time).”

 “For us, it is very new – [we] must feel our way for awhile.”

 “How do you balance counselor responsibility w/also now social media management?”

 “Our institution has not revised marketing plans to incorporate social networking. Many

social media initiatives have been started by individuals outside admissions - our library

has a [Facebook Page] - but admissions does not have their own. Administration is

determined to waste money on marketing we cannot track - billboards, mailings, etc.

They are oddly resistant to use internet marketing, even if we can provide metrics and

results. There is an attitude that if it's not broken, don't fix it - even though it's

completely broken.”
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Meanings of Findings

The findings in this study have been organized around the expectations of prospective

students and the actions of universities with respect to social media usage as well as the impact

of social media on freshman enrollment. The meanings of those findings have been divided into

three parts for discussion: social media usage, social media’s impact on enrollment, and the

disconnect existing between the expectations of prospective students and admission offices.

1. Social media usage. With social media being used by 98% of prospective students (see

Figure 3) and 85.7% of admission offices (see Figure 12), it is the ideal tool for university

admission departments. While YouTube is the most used social media by prospective students

(81%), Facebook is the social media of choice (see Figure 4) during their college search and is

the most popular social media used by universities (67.1%).

Given that Facebook was initially created for college students, it makes sense to this researcher

that Facebook would be the primary social media of one’s college search. As previous studies have

shown high concentrations of undergraduate college students on Facebook (80% and higher), it is a

natural setting for prospective students to learn more about universities.

Through Facebook, prospective students have the ability to browse university photos and

videos, participate in discussions, and become more allegiant to universities via the “become-a-

fan” feature – all while seeing a more personal and student-oriented side of universities not often

found in official websites or marketing materials.

Thus, Facebook is seen in such a positive light during the college search and universities with

pages and relevant/fun content appear to be much more earnest and forthcoming than schools
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relying solely upon their traditional marketing mix. This is a positive sign for universities as

Facebook is the most utilized social media among admission offices.

Additionally, with Facebook’s dominance across the internet, universities are more accessible

than on other forms of social media, and whereas MySpace used to be the king of social media,

it has been dethroned and decapitated by Facebook. According to the study, both MySpace and

Twitter had extremely low rates of interaction by prospective students at 8% and 3%,

respectively. While these two social networks still have popular name recognition, their role in

prospective students’ college search is barely present.

However, Twitter is heavily used among admission offices (40%) – a difference of almost

25% more than what prospective students want during their college search. Twitter was found in

the study to be the most discrepant of all social media technologies between the two populations

with regard for both applications and enrollment. It is this researcher’s opinion that this “Twitter

Anomaly” is a result of a generation gap between higher education professionals and the

prospective freshman audience.

Literature has shown Twitter to be prevalently used by adults, and the micro-blogging site

has become a staple at higher education conferences across the country. Thus, Twitter is more

familiar and well received to admission offices than Facebook is, and admission professionals

are receiving the false impression that Twitter is where they should be, when, as proven by this

study, Twitter is one of the least utilized forms of social media amid prospective students. Also,

a recent study by The Harris Poll indicated that 69 percent of adults do not even know what

Twitter is (Ostrow, 2009). This is an area of great concern for this researcher, since by July of

2010, Twitter is expected to be in use by 74.3% of universities (see Figure 35) yet only 15.1% of

prospective students actually want to use Twitter for their college search.
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2. Social media’s impact on enrollment. This study determined that social media, as a

whole, had a positive impact on prospective students’ decisions to apply and enroll at

universities. Positive influence levels of social media technologies (for prospective students

using them) were generally higher than 50% (as reported by both prospective students and

admission offices). By utilizing the Application Impact Factor (AIF) and Enrollment Impact

Factor (EIF), it was found that Facebook had the biggest impact on both applications and

enrollment, and blogs and group chats were also identified as having a significant impact

consistently among responses from both populations. While there was no data from admission

offices regarding the impact of message boards, prospective student responses indicated it as

having significant impact, as well.

Furthermore, there were zero responses from prospective students throughout the survey that

any form of social media had a negative influence on their decisions to apply or enroll at

universities, and there were only six total reports of negative influence by universities. Thus, this

study affirmed the primary hypothesis - Students who interact with universities using social

media are more likely to apply and enroll with these universities.

Despite all of the positive results of social media’s impact on enrollment, this researcher

came upon the “Twitter Anomaly” once more. When comparing the rankings of impact of the

various forms of social media on applications (see Table 7) and enrollment (see Table 12),

Twitter was found to be the third and second-most influential as reported by admission offices.

However, the student AIF and EIF rankings both showed Twitter to have the least impact on

their decision to apply and enroll. Because of prior explanations of the “Twitter Anomaly”, this

researcher does not believe Twitter to have a significant impact on applications or enrollment.
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3. The disconnect between the expectations of prospective students and actions of

admission offices. Evidence of disconnect between the prospective student and admission office

populations is heavily prevalent throughout this study.

The comparison of social media usage by admission offices versus social media technologies

desired by prospective students during their college search (figure 16a) shows significant

disconnect as high as 24.9% (Twitter), and 46.2% of all social media technologies surveyed also

showed a significant disconnect of 10% or higher. This clearly demonstrates that admission

offices are not in tune with which forms of social media prospective students want them to use.

Looking at the comparison of what kinds of specific interactions students want on Facebook

versus which types of interactions universities initiate (see Figure 22), the study shows much

higher disconnect – up to 43.7% between the two populations with regard to sending private

messages about missing documents and completing the application. In all, six of the eight forms

of communication/interaction (75%) showed a significant disconnect (10% or higher) between

admission offices and students. Additionally, the aforementioned “Twitter Anomaly” should

also be considered a significant disconnect between the two populations as it has been

prominent throughout the entire study.

As a whole, the presence of these significant disconnects emphatically rejects the secondary

null hypothesis – No disconnect exists between the expectations of prospective students and the

actual actions of universities via social media.

This researcher believes there to be two primary causes for this disconnect. First, the

generation gap between the two populations is apparent as social media did not even exist a

decade ago. So, as the gap between prospective freshman and admission professionals is usually

a decade at least, admission professionals shouldn’t be expected to be completely “in touch” with
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the social media trends and technologies of today. When they go to conferences, and all they

hear is “Twitter! Twitter!”, it is natural for them to assume that Twitter is a major form of

social media for prospective students – when, in reality, it is not.

Second, the fact that nearly 80% of admission offices don’t have a strategy for social media

(see Figure 27) indicates the lack of attention to the subject. Without a social media strategy (or

the formulation of one), admission offices do not have the research on what their prospective

students want and expect, as that kind of information would be apparent in a proper strategy

formulation. Most admission offices do not even know what they want out of social media, so

how can they be expected to know what prospective students want out of them.

In essence, admission offices are out of touch with social media and the related expectations

of prospective students.

Chapter V

Conclusion

Summary

The findings presented by this study are a solid affirmation of the initial assertion that social

media does indeed have a positive impact on freshman enrollment and is a tool that should by

highly regarded and embraced by university admission departments. With barely any negative

side effects, social media has been documented to have a positive influence on applications and

enrollment well above 50% in most cases. Additionally, as Facebook was found to be the social

media technology with the highest influence as determined by the Application Impact Factor and
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Enrollment Impact Factor, admission offices should embrace Facebook as their primary form of

social media when recruiting their next freshman class.

As social media (as a whole) was found to have such a positive impact on enrollment,

admission offices should take these results as reason enough to devote the resources needed to

take full advantage of its potential. At the same time, the implementation of social media within

a university’s recruitment strategy should respect the desires and expectations of prospective

students. With such a high disconnect found between the expectations of prospective students

and the actions of admission offices, mechanisms should be put in place to respect these

expectations. If admission offices understand their prospective students, they can potentially

avoid traps like the “Twitter Anomaly” and encourage meaningful and successful relationships

among prospective students.

Practical Applications & Recommendations

The following are practical applications and recommendations for admission offices based

upon this study’s findings.

Creation of a “Facebook Concierge”. With an overwhelming amount of students indicating

the desire to receive admission-related communications via Facebook, it could serve admission

offices to create a virtual “Facebook Concierge.” Here, admission offices would create an

official “University of XXXX Admissions Concierge” account on Facebook, and prospective

students, upon inquiry, would opt-in to receive direct communications from that profile with

regards to admission events, notifications about missing documents, and any other kind of

communication students would request. Then, students could choose if they wanted private or
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public messages about their application status, and Facebook could become an admission portal

for universities looking for an easy and accessible way to connect with their prospective

students.

Social media surveys. As this study has revealed significant disconnects between what

students want via social media and what admission offices do, it would serve the best interests of

admission offices to conduct routine surveys of their inquiry pool to identify what is expected of

them on social media outlets. Then, based on responses, admission offices can create clear and

concise strategies for their usage of social media.

Formulation of a social media strategy. Since 78.3% of admission offices don’t have an

official strategy for their usage of social media, it is evident that not enough time and attention is

being devoted to social media as a recruitment tool. As admission offices report that it is

“difficult to find the time” for social media, it is common to find situations where there is only

one or two people in an entire admission office working with Facebook and blogs. If more effort

was devoted to social media in an official capacity, admission offices would become more aware

of their own disconnects, and they could do a much better job of actually incorporating social

media into their recruitment plans and objectives.


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Recommendation for Further Research

In light of these findings, there are two areas of future research that would appropriately

compliment this study – advanced enrollment tracking and Twitter’s true impact on

freshman enrollment.

Advanced research of freshman application and enrollment data. While this study

directly looks at the influence of social media on applications and enrollment, it would serve the

university admission sector better if a future study was able to look directly at actual enrollment

data from universities. This kind of study would survey prospective students and look directly at

whether or not they withdraw or enroll while presenting quantitative evidence of students’

enrollment behavior based upon which forms of social media they found to be influential.

Therefore, for each survey respondent, it would be known exactly how they matriculated through

the admission funnel, and a more advanced statistical study could be performed.

The “Twitter Anomaly”. The presence of the “Twitter Anomaly” presents a conundrum for

this researcher. While it is more likely that the discrepancy of Twitter’s true impact on

enrollment between admission offices and prospective students is due to a generation gap, this

cannot be stated for sure. It is certainly plausible (while still highly unlikely) that Twitter could

have a positive impact on freshman enrollment, further research in this area could provide the

necessary proof to dissolve the “anomaly” once and for all.


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Appendix A

Prospective Student Survey


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Appendix B

Admission Office Survey


Aloha ‐

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. This study is researching the usage of
social media technologies within the area of higher education admissions.

The survey is only 11 questions and should take approximately 5‐7 minutes to complete. You will not need
any materials to complete this survey ‐ just your knowledge of social media usage in your admission office.

During this survey, you will not be asked to provide any personal information, and your answers will be
completely confidential. If you would like more information regarding this study or would like to request a
copy of the final paper, please contact Abe Gruber at agruber@hpu.edu.

Thanks for your time and participation in this study.

Question 1

Please check which of the following technologies your university’s admission department/division
currently use to reach out/communicate with prospective students:

 Blogging – Student blogs  Blogging–Admissions staff blogs

 Blogging – Faculty blogs  Facebook Pages

 Facebook Profiles  Group Chat Sessions

 Instant Messaging  LinkedIn

 Message Boards  MySpace

 Podcasting – Audio  Podcasting ‐ Video

 RSS  Social Bookmarking

 Twitter  YouTube

 None of These
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Question 2

Considering your admission department’s usage of the following technologies, is the content posted on these
social media platforms more geared towards inquiries or applicants? (Please select only one per row)

Inquiries Applicants Both Inquiries Do Not Use

Only Only & Applicants

Blogging – Student blogs    

Blogging – Admissions staff blogs    

Blogging – Faculty blogs    

Facebook Pages    

Facebook Profiles    

Group Chat Sessions    

Instant Messaging    

LinkedIn    

Message Boards    

MySpace    

Podcasting – Audio    

Podcasting ‐ Video    

RSS    

Social Bookmarking    

Twitter    

YouTube    
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Question 3

Please rate the impact of the following technologies on the number of freshman applications you have
received for the fall 2009 semester. (Please select only one per row)

Somewhat No Data
Very No Somewhat Very to
Positive Positive Difference Negative Negative Answer Do Not Use

Blogging – Student
      
blogs

Blogging – Adm.
      
staff blogs

Blogging – Faculty
      
blogs

Facebook Pages       

Facebook Profiles       

Group Chat Sessions       

Instant Messaging       

LinkedIn       

Message Boards       

MySpace       

Podcasting – Audio       

Podcasting ‐ Video       

RSS       

Social Bookmarking       

Twitter       

YouTube       
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 107

Question 4

Please rate the impact of the following technologies on the number of freshman enrollments you have
received for the fall 2009 semester. (Please select only one per row)

Somewhat No Data
Very No Somewhat Very to
Positive Positive Difference Negative Negative Answer Do Not Use

Blogging – Student
      
blogs

Blogging – Adm.
      
staff blogs

Blogging – Faculty
      
blogs

Facebook Pages       

Facebook Profiles       

Group Chat Sessions       

Instant Messaging       

LinkedIn       

Message Boards       

MySpace       

Podcasting – Audio       

Podcasting ‐ Video       

RSS       

Social Bookmarking       

Twitter       

YouTube       
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 108

Question 5

Please check which of the following technologies your university’s admission department/division does
not use but plans to start using it in the next 6‐12 months:

 Blogging – Student blogs  Blogging–Admissions staff blogs

 Blogging – Faculty blogs  Facebook Pages

 Facebook Profiles  Group Chat Sessions

 Instant Messaging  LinkedIn

 Message Boards  MySpace

 Podcasting – Audio  Podcasting ‐ Video

 RSS  Social Bookmarking

 Twitter  YouTube

 None of These

Question 6

With respect to Facebook, please indicate which types of communication your admission office uses to
reach out directly to prospective students? (please select all that apply)

 Admissions counselors add prospective students as a friend

 Invite prospective students to upcoming admissions events (open houses, online chat sessions, etc)

 Posts on prospective students’ wall about how to apply for admission

 Private messages to prospective students about how to apply for admission

 Posts on prospective students’ wall about missing documents/completing their application

 Private messages to prospective students about missing documents/completing their application

 Posts on prospective students’ wall about being accepted to the university

 Private messages to prospective students about being accepted to a university

None of the above, but admissions staff members will respond to prospective students if they are messaged
 first.

 None of the above, and no admissions staff members have any direct contact with students on Facebook.
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 109

Question 7

Does your admission office have a strategy regarding the usage of social media technologies in the
recruiting process?

 Yes

 No

 Our admission office doesn’t use social media

Question 8

Does your admission office have any specific recruitment goals with respect to social media? Is
there a goal number of inquiries, applicants, etc. that should come from social media initiatives?

 Yes

 No

 Our admissions office doesn’t use social media

Question 9

Does your admission office use any data capture technologies that allow you to track and quantify the
number of students entering your admissions funnel from social media? Are you able to track the
students that come directly from social media sources like Facebook?

 Yes

 No

 Our admission office doesn’t use social media


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 110

Question 10

Are any of these social media tools being used by other departments in your university to
communicate/engage with current students? (please select all that apply)

 Blogging – Student blogs  Blogging–Admissions staff blogs

 Blogging – Faculty blogs  Facebook Pages

 Facebook Profiles  Group Chat Sessions

 Instant Messaging  LinkedIn

 Message Boards  MySpace

 Podcasting – Audio  Podcasting ‐ Video

 RSS  Social Bookmarking

 Twitter  YouTube

 None of These

Question 11

Do you have any other thoughts or comments regarding the usage of social media in university
admission departments?

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
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Appendix C

Prospective Student Survey – Raw Results


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Appendix D

Admission Office Survey – Raw Results


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Question 3: Please rate the impact of the following technologies on the number of freshman

applications you have received for the fall 2009 semester.

Very Somewhat Somewhat Very Do


Answer No No Data
Negative Negative Positive Positive Not Total
Options Impact Available
Impact Impact Impact Impact Use
Blogging –
Student 0 0 1 5 4 15 35 60
blogs
Blogging –
Admissions 0 0 1 1 2 5 51 60
staff blogs
Blogging –
Faculty 0 0 2 1 0 8 49 60
blogs
Facebook
0 0 5 9 6 23 17 60
Pages
Facebook
0 0 4 8 5 19 24 60
Profiles
Group Chat
0 2 0 8 5 14 31 60
Sessions
Instant
0 0 3 4 6 11 36 60
Messaging
LinkedIn 0 0 1 0 0 1 58 60
Message
0 0 0 0 0 3 57 60
Boards
MySpace 0 1 2 3 0 4 50 60
Podcasting

0 0 0 3 2 4 51 60
Audio
Podcasting
-
0 0 0 1 1 3 55 60
Video
RSS 0 0 5 3 3 8 41 60
Social
0 0 2 2 0 2 54 60
Bookmarki
ng
Twitter 0 0 2 7 1 17 33 60
YouTube 0 0 2 6 5 14 33 60
answered
question 60
skipped question 10

*Unable to display properly from the SurveyMonkey software


Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS 126

Question 4: Please rate the impact of the following technologies on the number of freshman

enrollments you have received for the fall 2009 semester.

Very Somewhat Somewhat Very Do


Answer No No Data
Negative Negative Positive Positive Not Total
Options Impact Available
Impact Impact Impact Impact Use
Blogging –
Student 0 0 1 3 3 19 34 60
blogs
Blogging –
Admissions 0 0 1 1 2 6 50 60
staff blogs
Blogging –
Faculty 0 0 1 1 0 9 49 60
blogs
Facebook
0 0 4 7 4 30 15 60
Pages
Facebook
0 0 3 6 3 25 23 60
Profiles
Group Chat
0 1 2 5 5 17 30 60
Sessions
Instant
0 0 1 5 7 12 35 60
Messaging
LinkedIn 0 0 1 0 0 2 57 60
Message
0 0 0 0 0 5 55 60
Boards
MySpace 0 1 2 1 0 6 50 60
Podcasting –
1 0 0 1 0 7 51 60
Audio
Podcasting -
0 0 0 0 1 5 54 60
Video
RSS 0 0 7 0 2 10 41 60
Social
0 0 3 0 1 3 53 60
Bookmarkin
g
Twitter 0 0 1 6 0 22 31 60
YouTube 0 0 3 5 3 15 34 60
answered
question 60
skipped question 10

*Unable to display properly from the SurveyMonkey software


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