Admissions blogs gone but not forgotten

by Emili JohnsonStaff Writer

After a trial run on the Simpson Web site, the Admissions Department has decided to pull blogs that were created by students and faculty members.

The blogs, which had been posted since last spring, were taken down after a low number in daily hits from prospective students. Originally the blogs were marketed toward teenage students with interest in Simpson. Included in the blogs were daily accounts of life on campus.

Beth Peck, assistant director of admissions, felt blogging was a new and interesting way to connect with students whom had never heard of Simpson.

“We’re always trying to connect with students on different mediums and a lot of recruiting is done online,” Peck said. “I thought it would be nice to have students paint a picture of Simpson in a raw format.”

Peck said that admissions had a select number of students from various majors, backgrounds and activities to blog about their daily lives on campus. Also, two professors and three admissions counselors were asked to blog about their experiences with students at Simpson.

After mixed reviews about the blogs and a lot of internal feedback, they were taken off the Web site.

“The biggest reason we took them down was not many hits on the students’ blogs,” Peck said. “We would have to have a more comprehensive marketing plan on the blogs so somehow I would have to know that it was worth it.”

The only way admissions knew that people were looking at the blogs was based on a tracker that would count the number of people who would visit the blogs.

Sophomore Steve Lovitt was one of the bloggers on the Web site and was happy to see the department branch out in order to reach more students. He also mentioned that having the blogs written by students broke down many stereotypes prospective students may have had about the college.

“I think it gave a student perspective of how our daily lives work and thing that we experience and dealt with,” Lovitt said. “It was supposed to give students a comfortable idea of college.”

Lovitt, a student ambassador, said while the blogs fizzled, there are many other ventures the department takes part in to draw in more out-of-state students.

“We will be doing an open house in Chicago soon,” Lovitt said. “An admissions counselor from that territory will go to that city and set up a meet and greet at a hotel and we could meet with parents and students and encourage them to come and visit Simpson.”

Lovitt said he was not extremely upset when the blogs were taken off the school Web site but he did not understand their reasoning for making the decision.

“I know admissions wanted us to blog once a week and it was hard to keep up with that because I was so busy,” Lovitt said. “There were other people that could blog that had the time to do it. I would give them the chance to do it before I would do it again.”

Admissions Counselor Tiffany Hummel said she was disappointed when she heard the news about the blogs. Hummel, who mainly recruits out-of-state students, felt the blogs were a great way to connect with teens and get them excited about attending Simpson.

“The majority of teenagers get their information about college through the Internet,” Hummel said. “My blog is another way students can gather information about everyday life at Simpson.”

Hummel also said that because of the format she uses on her blogs, teens may find it less formal and less intimidating than a general college Web site. She also said the blog was a way to reach out to students who could not take the time to travel and personally visit Simpson.

“I think both students and parents appreciate seeing someone working with them as a ‘real’ person that is so sincerely passionate about the college,” Hummel said.

While Hummel felt the blogs did put Simpson “ahead of the curve” among in-state competition, the department has many up-and-coming plans to get more students excited about Simpson.

“We are starting to film new campus and athletic videos to send and we are continuing to air our TV commercials throughout the state,” Hummel said.

The department is also looking at adding more group visit days and taking a trip to Nebraska to recruit more students. Plus, they plan on working with Simpson alumni in the spring in hopes of having more volunteers to recruit prospective students.