If there is one thing that universities have failed to realize over the past few years, it’s that by the time most students have finished high school, they have become disenchanted with numbers.
Chronicles of education
If there is one thing that universities have failed to realize over the past few years, it’s that by the time most students have finished high school, they have become disenchanted with numbers. Statistics and dates are dull as can be. Categorical breakdowns are about as intriguing as the Pythagorean Theorem. Percentages induce a delayed shock-therapy effect. But universities insist on throwing nothing but numbers at potential students. What is a number-addled student to do?
Recently, a number of schools have added a new component to their web pages: a blog. The trend has grown in the past two years, with larger and smaller schools alike presenting current, former and potential students with insight into campus life. Now, thanks to Christopher Broderick, the associate vice president for Communications, and three student bloggers, PSU has its own blog: PSU Chronicles (www.psuchronicles.com).
Currently hosted on WordPress, the blog consists of three student writers: Atziri Sanchez, Richelle Beck and Kenny Katz. They have already evaluated D2L, commented on the overuse of PowerPoint in lectures and started examining gathering places for students. It gives insight into PSU that numbers never could: real concerns and opinions from real students, shared in an easy-to-understand format.
Already, despite its lack of advertising, the blog is starting to get traffic from current and potential students alike.
Broderick pushed for the blog for months. He feels that on a campus this diverse, a blog with multiple student writers will give the student population more of a voice. He worked with the department of communications to get the project moving. “Most universities already have blogs,” Broderick said. “So this is really overdue.”
And really, it is.
Social media has become more than just a way to pass the time or reconnect with friends. It has become an integral part of everyday life. A quarter of all internet use in the United States is on social media, more than twice the time spent on the second most visited category: online games. For businesses and causes, embracing social media has become more than just a good idea—it’s practically a necessity.
PSU clearly understands this now. The blog is just the latest addition to the social media boom of PSU. But unlike the other media PSU has already worked with, the blog is strictly maintained by students. “We want to use this blog to give students a voice,” Broderick said. “We don’t give out assignments. The writers decide what they want to write about, and they share it in their own voice. It’s very self-directed.”
But at the same time, it’s rather limiting. At the moment, the blog looks at only three perspectives, whereas PSU has thousands. In addition, the blog took the school by surprise. Prior to its inception, the only students who knew about it were those in the communications department, and two of the three writers happen to be communications majors. PSU already had another blog from before, mostly for events and updates about construction. What will become of that blog now?
Over time, the blog will have to incorporate new perspectives. The goal, according to Broderick, is to expand to the point that the blog is updated every day. The writers themselves will have to keep coming up with new things to talk about, which everyone who has ever started a blog knows is a difficult task to accomplish. While it is hoped that the blog will eventually be incorporated into the student website, for now it is a separate entity in and of itself.
While there is of course room for improvement, the blog is a marvelous undertaking. It’s a good way for potential students to get to know what the school behind the numbers is like, a way for current students to keep up with the goings-on around campus and a way for former students to remember what their school was like. With time, the blog will be a valuable addition to the PSU social media and a good resource for those who use it. ?