Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm a Guest Blogger

I got my first gig as a "guest blogger" this month. My picture is even featured right next to my favorite mascot, Blue II. Below is the piece I wrote for Butler University admissions' "Go Butler" Web site:

When I came to Butler in 2006, Facebook was new and everybody who was anybody had an account. I started by adding Butler students who were also in the Media Arts program. During Welcome Week, I was at an ice cream social and recognized a girl from Facebook. We hugged each other the first time we met because we felt like we were already acquainted! She and I had a bunch of classes together, and today she’s a really great friend of mine.

Online transparency is key. Students and parents can turn to Butler’s social network accounts to get a more personal perspective of life at Butler. I think I’m most impressed with Butler’s chief of police, Ben Hunter who recently started his own
Twitter account. Butler has taken the steps to meet students where they are: online. Last week, I logged on to Twitter and found out that Butler was closed because of the heavy snowfall. In that sense, these sites are helpful not only in keeping up with friends, but also in staying updated on important university messages.

While social media has connected me to people I wouldn’t have otherwise known, it has also flowed over into my academics. One of my professors,
Dr. Geertsema, requires her students to extend our classroom discussions to Facebook. Just last week, I posted an article and discussion question to the class Facebook group. That, to me, is the beauty of social interaction and a critically-thinking institution.

Recently, I’ve seen social media help me out of a jam or two. This past December, I was getting ready leave Washington, D.C. – where I interned at National Public Radio. The weekend I planned to leave, my flight got rescheduled but I had no transportation to get to the airport. I posted a call out for help via
Twitter. I didn’t have to wait long to get a response. A friend I’d met at a conference in D.C. was headed to the airport, too. He picked me up and we drove the airport so we could catch our flights out of the city. If he hadn’t responded and offered his help, I’d probably still be stuck in D.C.! I know a lot of people who have a social media success story, whether used for research or in the event of breaking news, like the Haiti earthquake or the Iranian protests.

In another instance, I called on my Facebook and
Twitter networks for research topics ideas and got a lot of great suggestions - nearly 10 different ideas!

The best thing incoming students can do is to get plugged in on social networks. Facebook is already a favorite among high schoolers, but Twitter has really practical purposes that extend beyond just updating a status. Use to find interesting articles about college applications. Find out which schools have Twitter accounts, and follow them. Join fan pages. Ask the questions you have about campus tours or the size of a dorm room. Utilize the tools that are out there.

Online presence says a lot about a university. It says they care about reaching out to students in a personal and meaningful way. Social media brings you that much closer to the university. If you want a university that’s progressive, look to how they utilize their online presence.


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