Colleges’ unending campaign to attract more students and alumni donations has higher-education officials looking to two technologies that consume a growing chunk of people’s free time: social media and video games.
University admissions officers are fielding prospective students’ application questions on Facebook and keeping alumni up to date with multiple daily tweets that could grow campus coffers if graduates feel more connected to their alma maters.
Some colleges lure potential students with walking, talking digital characters, or avatars, that guide visitors through an application process that sometimes frustrates prospective students and results in hundreds of unfinished online applications.
Admissions and marketing officials at colleges nationwide said higher education has been slow to embrace social networking, in part because larger institutions thought a Facebook or Twitter presence might tarnish the campus’s prestige.
But over the past year, research universities and community colleges alike have brought their marketing message to the online forums that many students are constantly connected to using their iPhones, BlackBerries, and other smart phones.