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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Class of 2017 Facebook Page (and how UVa admission officers use Facebook)

I try to create as many avenues for applicants to chat and ask questions as possible.  This is why I'm available here (I answer questions in the comments on posts) and on Twitter, Facebook, and email.

Sometimes, you'll want to chat with each other and ask questions in a student-only space.  You can do that in the Class of 2017 Facebook group.  In the spirit of student self-governance, which is a big deal here at UVa, this is a space just for students. 


Click the image to go to the group on Facebook!


Obviously, the group will be for students who hope they'll be members of the Class of 2017 at this point.  This is normal.  The membership of the group will evolve as decisions are released and students start committing to colleges.


I am not in the Class of 2017 group, so if you have application questions and want to ask them on Facebook, you can use the Notes from Peabody Facebook page.




How UVa Admission Officers Use Facebook

The express version: 
We aren't searching for you on Facebook. 

The long version:
Years ago, an enterprising young college student had an idea to market a business to college bound students through Facebook in a new way.  Through made up Facebook accounts, he or his unpaid interns became administrators for hundreds of "Class of 20xx" Facebook groups for colleges all around the country.

Back then, most admission folks let Facebook groups grow organically.  Some excited student would start a group for their class and others would join as they got their admission decisions.  I shared that view. After the made up accounts were connected by a group of admission officers interested in social media, what was happening got picked up by the media and dubbed "Facebookgate."  The full story unfolds on the Squared Peg blog, but you can read a quick synopsis on this blog.

Each year since, that same enterprising, young man has tweaked his practices and tried again, more recently for a roommate matching website (our students have created their own roommate matching surveys on the class Facebook pages for years).  In 2010, even The Choice blog at the New York Times covered what was happening.


Why am I telling you this?  So you understand why I stepped in a few years ago to create class groups on Facebook.  I have absolutely no interest in tracking you on the internet or looking at your profiles.  My interest is in creating a group for each class where content won't include advertisements and your information won't be mined (my worry with groups that are tied to a company).

Over time, I developed a plan for each class' Facebook groups.  I create the group for each class early in the year.  During application season, I turn administration of the group over the current UVa students, who would best answer questions and give advice.  When the incoming class elects their Class Council, class officers become the new administrators.  I'm happy to say that most of the groups I created over the years are still in use.  


There are two current students already signed on at administrators for the Class of 2017 group. They are happy to answer questions, but they are also happy to sit back and let you chat.  Nothing in these groups will be saved or connected to your applications.


How do you feel about admission folks being on Facebook?  Do you like the avenues we've set up for you?  What do you think we should do in the future?