With such an elevated interest in social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging, one’s online persona is essential to his or her real-life personality. Blogs in particular have transgressed into pivotal and personal outlets that have contributed toward today’s information overload and simultaneously have developed channels for specific niches.
Since blogs are inexpensive – usually free – to start and easy to maintain, many universities in Philadelphia and across the nation have rightly observed the impact blogs can have on prospective students and parents.
Temple, the University of the Arts, Drexel University and LaSalle University have initiated student-blogs to serve as outreach programs for prospective students and parents and have created programs that sometimes pay select students to document their college lives online.
It’s a seemingly win-win situation: While the university appears more accessible, student-bloggers are also often paid for their work.
But Main Campus, which boasts a state-of-the-art TECH Center, lacks a reliable digital stage for student-blogs. Temple features a handful of Owl Ambassadors’ student-blogs on the admissions Web site, but the blogs are unorganized, unstructured and rarely updated.
Temple uses WordPress, but unlike UArts, the admissions page only provides a link that navigates the user away from Temple’s domain instead of embedding the blogs right into Temple’s site.
Student-blogger Danielle Lovier, a junior musical theater major at UArts, has been contributing to the art school’s blog since she arrived in Philadelphia as a freshman. Lovier said for high school students, it’s important to decide on a school based on an unfiltered perspective.
“Many kids that end up going here tell me that I had an impact on them deciding to come here or making them excited about coming here,” she said.
Not only do student-bloggers offer a more transparent look into academia, blogs provide a more personal experience of college life.
Lovier writes for the blog in a conversational manner, uses amateur pictures and routinely provides links as resources to her audience. She presents student life on a smaller scale than a generic campus tour but encompasses a much larger audience – the World Wide Web.
For student-blogs to promote more transparent institutions, they must rely on honest bloggers.
Senior journalism major Kyle Bagenstose created the “Cherry and What?” for the average busy, impatient Temple student, he said. The C&W’s voice is informative, humorous and blunt. While it can nearly cross the line when it pokes fun of faculty, such as President Ann Weaver Hart, the blog also reports pressing issues to the college community, and its social significance has developed into a paramount daily, online news source for Temple students.
Similarly, Bagenstose said student-blogs allow prospective students to view the university at a new angle.
“School newspaper articles have the ability to question the university, but not in the daily, conversational way blogs can,” he said.
For students who apply to far-away schools and can’t make the trip for a school tour, blogs allow for the prospective student to control the length of his or her virtual visit. And if they like what they see or read, they’ll keep coming back for more.
While students are given almost complete control over their content, the Temple blogs lack consistency and structure.
Neglect of uniform content by Temple’s blogs destroys any personal level they could have with prospective students. As the trend of online media continues to consume the daily routines of youth, Temple’s student-blogs are in need of a virtual makeover.
Matthew Petrillo can be reached at MattP@temple.edu