Admission blogs on the rise at other universities

| Contributing Reporter

In a blog entitled, “An Unofficial Guide to Unstandard MITglish, 1st Edition,” sophomore Yan Zhu at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) defines the word “function” in an MIT context for prospective students:

“Function (noun): No list of overinflated jargon would be complete without this classic, all-purpose noun that instantly makes you sound scientifically saucy in virtually any context. Otherwise known as the ketchup of argumentative conversations, ‘function’ may be overused, but it hasn’t lost its awesomely obnoxious flavor.”

Zhu’s blog, an element of the MIT admissions website, is part of a growing trend on universities’ admissions sites, many of which have begun recruiting student writers to blog about their experiences at college in hopes of giving prospective students greater insight into student life.

“Prospective students will always want to hear from the admissions office. They want to hear about the students’ side in addition to the administrators’. We’re able to provide a much more direct, everyday, and vivacious account of Vassar,” says Vassar undergraduate and student blogger Brian Farkas.

Admissions departments at some universities seek out student bloggers from diverse backgrounds, while others have developed an application process to select them.

“The admissions person for my region knew what my interests were. She suggested me, and then the communications department contacted me and invited me to apply,” explained Temple Price, a freshman at Wellesley College.

At MIT, the application process is more competitive.  Applicants must submit a link of a previous blog and be interviewed for the position. Zhu was among four bloggers chosen from a pool of 32.

At Vassar, the goal is diversity. The four student bloggers there include not only vice president Brian Farkas, but also a baseball player, an editorial director for the student style magazine and a martial arts fanatic who founded the Multi-Racial/Biracial Students’ Association at Vassar.

Although it has only been a few years since the creation of these blogs, many of them have been popularly received by prospective students looking to use them as a resource in the application process.

“I respond to 12-20 emails a week with answers to [students’] questions,” Farkas said. “I’m pre-law at Vassar. Many people have asked me about the law school process. People have asked me what kind of support the school gives. Sometimes it’ll be totally unrelated to the topics I’m blogging about.”

To recruit these bloggers, some universities are offering pay for admissions bloggers. Others see it as a volunteer opportunity.

“It’s a little extra money for something that’s fun to do as well,” Price said. “Blogging as a freshman is interesting because the whole process last year is still fresh in my mind. I’m trying to write the perfect blog for extracurricular things. I want to talk about it in a candid way without being discouraging.”

Junior Becca Dirks thought the system was a an interesting idea.

“I think it’s a good idea. It allows students to see what the current student body actually thinks. Had it been available I would have spent a lot of time looking at [the blogs],” Dirks said.

When asked about censorship, all three student bloggers from MIT, Vassar, and Wellesley exclaimed that it was absolutely nonexistent.

“We have a separate website—blogger.com—so we have total control over what we write,” Farkas said.

Even if the schools were able to censor the blogs, students say there would be little need. “No one really has anything bad to say about the school,” Farkas continued.

The trend of admissions blogs will most likely continue to grow at schools across the country, as students so far have only good things to say about the blogs.

“I really love that Vassar allows student to blog. I think that it’s really important because students are really Vassar’s ambassadors. Students here take so many classes and go to so many events that it’s really important to give students a voice,” Farkas said.