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Magazine On-line [fall 2011]
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Around Campus

Rudolph coordinates digital recruitment

Q: How does the admissions office make friends with prospective students even before the students contact Transylvania?
A: Through Facebook and Twitter.

Because prospective students are heavy users of social networking, Transylvania recently created a digital recruitment coordinator position in the admissions office, which has been filled by Laura Rudolph.

Laura Rudolph

“Prospective students are often surprised when Transylvania takes the time and effort to contact them, when maybe they haven’t yet contacted us,” says Rudolph. “But since one-on-one attention from our faculty is a staple of Transylvania, we want to provide that personal touch online as well.”

Rudolph developed and launched the university’s new admissions Facebook page, www.facebook.com/beapioneer, as well as an admissions Twitter account, @beapioneer. She also monitors social media and college recruitment websites.

In the past, prospective students expected to come to the admissions office, tour campus, and meet an admissions counselor in person. Today, however, they expect to be able to e-mail their counselors with questions and interact with them through social media—and for the counselors to be responsive.

“Prospective students share a lot of personal information with us: grades, test scores, personal statements,” says Rudolph. “So they want to get to know their admissions counselors, too. Each counselor now has a personal Twitter account so they can interact with students. We’re not just trying to keep up with our competition from other colleges; we’re providing additional funnels for students to have a dialog with us.”

The admissions Facebook and Twitter pages are in addition to the university’s already strong social media presence, including the official Transylvania site administered by the public relations office and pages for alumni, athletics, sustainability, and the library. The admissions section of www.transy.edu includes links to the admissions Facebook and Twitter pages.

“Our theme this year is ‘Be a Pioneer,’ which was inspired by Virginia Hamilton, the student speaker at commencement 2011,” says Rudolph.

Drawing on Transylvania’s mission of preparing students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, Hamilton challenged fellow graduates to “Don’t just be an optimist, be a leader. And don’t just be a leader, be a pioneer.”

The admissions Facebook homepage changes weekly to reflect various aspects of that theme. One week it said, “Don’t just be a scientist, be a pioneer,” with a photo of a student in a lab. Another week’s theme was, “Don’t just be an athlete, be a pioneer,” with a student-athlete photo.

The admissions office also has a Class of 2015 Facebook page that has been extremely active, especially last summer after room assignments were posted. “Students were asking each other what residence hall they would be in—what floor and room,” says Rudolph. “Making connections before they arrive on campus makes their transition to college easier.”

Plans are in the works to further develop the admissions Facebook presence. “We’re texting out all the time to ask students what they want to see there,” says Rudolph.

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