College Admissions Blogs Offer Personal Elements
> 4/16/2007 12:21:13 PM

Blogs generally serve as online spaces for individuals both ubiquitous and anonymous to air their private thoughts, grievances, and life experiences to anyone who cares to pay attention. Their free-form aesthetic often allows for intimate, aggressive or riskee material that would hardly seem appropriate for inclusion on official university pages designed for students looking to gague the relative worth of their preferred schools. But an increasing number of high-profile colleges, looking to offer interested high-schoolers a more realistic view of their institutions, have begun to prominently feature student blogs on their admissions pages.

Some institutions believe that the portraits offered by student bloggers present a better-rounded image of the schools themselves, reflecting both the pleasant and the difficult elements of the university experience. Of course, brutal honesty may not always reflect positively on the schools represented, and some reasonable restrictions apply: though schools differ on the amount of oversight exercised, obscenities and posts dealing with questionable behavior are generally not allowed.

Quick glances at relevant university blogs reveal active students offering interested parties everything from photo-journals of recent vacations to quick meditations on the intensity of their studies and ruminations on extracurricular events ranging from post-graduate employment to competing in a marathon. Placing informal human faces on these student body members by allowing them to compose their own stories is more appealing to potential admittees than the staged photo-ops with past students or professional models that have so often dominated the admissions brochure field. Some blogs also offer applying high-schoolers or new freshman a forum in which to ask specific questions and receive answers from current students.

Beyond simply documenting student life at the universities in question, these entries also offer glimpses into the personalities of the students brave enough to post them. Among the most prominent schools to make use of this feature is MIT, one of this country's most demanding universities. According to an admissions officer who doubles as an official blogger, the blogs look to certify the school's reputation for excellence while simultaneously countering the intimidating stereotypes that label MIT an academic factory dominated by obsessive all-night study sessions and strung-out students.

Contrary to certain corners of popular opinion, today's students are hungrier for information and more tech-saavy than they've ever been before, and they prefer to be properly educated about the universities to which they will apply. Campus tours and stiff FAQ sessions do not offer the insights presented by student-written blogs, which have undoubtedly become a crucial element in offering a balanced view to the public. While schools obviously wish to put their best faces forward, these intimate journals provide evidence that these universities are not only academic insitutions but communities whose members each make active contributions to the school body. As one MIT applicant puts it, the blogs have allowed her to see "...real people, people I would be friends with. It makes you feel included, and it made me like the school a whole lot more." Certainly sounds like a winning equation for the admissions office.

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