Section: News

With rise in social media, Kenyon comes to more homes

by Jack Stubbs

The rise of technology and social media over the past few years has been especially evident for the Office of Admissions and the Office of Public Affairs at Kenyon. Improvements and various developments in the world of technology and social media have significantly altered the way these two offices operate and network with prospective students.

Public Affairs is in charge of printing all of the materials for Admissions. Typically, Public Affairs reaches out to three main populations: alumni, current students and prospective students. “The type of social media platform used depends on which population you are trying to access,” Patty Burns, director of new media, said. Because of a generational gap in social media use, print communication is not totally obsolete. “The college admissions process doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and parents might be involved in the process, too,” Social Media Producer Mary Keister said.

The success of social media also depends on how big the academic institution is. For a school as small as Kenyon, “The goal of social media is often just to get Kenyon on people’s radar,” Whitney Hawkins, assistant director of the Office of Admissions, said. “The hope with social media is that it will also encourage prospective students to reach out to us.” Hawkins also believes the rise of social media has helped prospective students get a more accurate sense of what Kenyon is like. “Social media also helps to connect prospective students with current Kenyon students,” she said.

Two years ago, Admissions decided to remove the supplemental essay from the Common Application. “Removing the supplement removed one more obstacle that prospective students have to contend with,” Hawkins said. This change in the application occurred at the same time as a dramatic increase in the number of students applying to Kenyon. During the 2012-2013 year, 4,058 students applied to Kenyon. The next year brought a 63-percent increase in applications, bringing the total number of applicants up to 6,627. This number continued to increase this year, with 7025 students applications submitted. This shift also included an increased number of  international students applying to — and ultimately enrolling at — Kenyon. “The hardest part is to accurately represent Kenyon through social-media platforms like Twitter or Facebook,” Hawkins said.

The rise of technology and social media has allowed Admissions and Public Affairs to interact with prospective students in new ways. However, even with social media, “it’s still difficult to portray the real ethos and culture of Kenyon,” Hawkins said. For the Office of Admissions, the decision to strike the supplement from the Common App, as well as the increased availability of social media and technology, has certainly affected the process of admissions at Kenyon.


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