Students ... Uncensored

 

By Stephen Collins '74
 

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In the brave new world of podcasts and blogs, Facebook and CollegeConfidential.com, The Princeton Review and the College Prowler book series, colleges and universities no longer have a corner on the market of what gets published about them. In one respect, a new admissions initiative called insideColby takes the if-you-can't-beat-them approach, encouraging students to join the fray.

insideColby.com is the new Web site, launched in April, that's at the center of a constellation that includes a new print magazine, blogs, podcasts, photos, profiles, and interactive features"all content produced by Colby students.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Parker Beverage said, "Prospective students want the inside look," and by letting current students do the talking about Colby, they're getting a lot more of that. "They're getting their information from many more channels and more informal means, and they're getting more timely information."

He recommends the Student Lens, a weekly gallery of photos taken by students, to anyone who can't visit the campus. "You see what's important to our students," Beverage said. "Parties, events, dorm rooms, sports, the weather."

While other institutions are also using student-generated stories in their recruiting materials, Colby turned it into a multipronged, multimedia effort that replaces the traditional viewbook and gives students new venues for publishing their work. Mindy Favreau '07 wrote the lead feature story for the first insideColby magazine (also on the Web)"about how returning from a year abroad can be more disorienting than traveling to an unfamiliar culture in the first place.

Favreau, also an admissions volunteer, endorses the insideColby strategy. "New England and liberal arts schools tend to look very similar on paper," she said. "It's a good idea to give prospective students a feel for what life is like here. ... It's more genuine."

Current students are paying attention too, she said. "A lot of people think it's great. They get another way to see what's going on on campus and to see what other students think is important."

Patrick Sanders '08, who maintains a blog on insideColby.com, agreed. "I find myself going to it [insideColby.com] a lot, checking out the podcasts and looking at the Student Lens"reading Lokesh [Todi '09] and Suzanne [Merkelson '09]'s blogs to see what I have to compete with."

It's too early to gauge results, but Beverage is encouraged. It feels like a more nimble system, he said, for getting Colby's inside story out.
 
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