“Social Media and College Admissions: The First Longitudinal Study” conducted by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Research Chair of the Society for New Communications Research and Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Eric Mattson, CEO of Financial Insite Inc. was announced. The new study represents one of the first statistically significant, longitudinal studies on the usage of social media by college admissions offices. The study compares adoption of social media between 2007 and 2008 by the admissions offices of all the four-year accredited institutions in the United States. The findings are based on 536 interviews with college admissions officers. Key Findings include: There has been significant growth in familiarity with, adoption of, and importance to mission of social media over one year ago; Adoption has grown by 24% in one year: 61% in 2007 as compared with 85% in 2008. Usage increased for every social media type studied; Adoption is being driven by admissions departments’ recognition of the increasingly importance of social media. Colleges and universities are outpacing U.S. corporate adoption of social media tools and technologies (13% of the Fortune 500 and 39% of the Inc. 500 currently have a public blog, while 41% of college admissions departments have blogs); Social networking is the tool most familiar to admissions officers, with 55% of respondents claiming to be “very familiar with it” in the first study and 63% in 2008; A growing number of admissions officers use search engines (23%) and social networks (17%) to research prospective students; In addition to social networks, usage of YouTube has also increased substantially. Video is now being used to deliver virtual tours of campuses, virtual visits to the dorms, and sample lectures from the faculty; 78% of private schools have blogs, versus 28% of public schools, and 50% of schools with undergraduate populations of less than 2,000 have blogs; 40% of institutions not currently using social media plan to start a blog; Nearly 90% of admissions departments feel that social media is “somewhat to very important” to their future strategy. The full executive summary of the study is available for download at:
http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/mediaandadmissions.cfm, http://www.sncr.org

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