Posted March 06, 2014 by

How to Use Social Media to Find the School of Your Dreams

Ashley Dunlap

Ashley Dunlap

If you’ve been looking for online college programs, by now you’ve realized that it can be more difficult than you first imagined. Many online programs are very new, making them hard to find through a simple search. Other programs, seemingly ubiquitous on the internet, are either not accredited or not able to give you the professional expertise that you will need after you graduate. Wading through what’s out there can be very difficult and it’s easy to miss a lot. What is a prospective degree candidate to do?

One way to find online degree programs is to let online technology work on your behalf. Key features of both Facebook and Twitter can be set to do some of the leg work. But before you start, be mindful of the warnings that you have heard before:

  • Your online presence can work for or against you, depending on how you set up your account
  • Make certain that your personal information is private
  • Remember, even a private setting is no guarantee. If you post something privately to your friends, there is nothing to prevent them from releasing this information (or even an embarrassing photo) on their web page.

Many college admissions offices will check your Facebook profile. Make sure you are representing yourself professionally.

That being said, here are a few things that you can do to find the perfect degree program.

Join College Confidential

College Confidential is on Facebook and is one of the most popular resources available. Start out by doing a simple search for the degree program that interests you. Once you have a list, you can look up the schools to see if they have an online (or partial online) option. Make sure you look through their online discussion boards and post there, requesting more information. You will be able to discuss your search with other online degree seekers. Students who already attend an online school also participate in these boards, so they’ll be able to give you important, insider feedback.

http://www.collegeconfidential.com/college_search/

Join a Professional Community

Most graduates in a particular field join a professional community affiliated with their occupation. Your job is to find a professional association that represents your interest and join that community. These are people who love what they do and often have time to help out a prospective student. Check on Facebook and see if they have an online presence. If they do, post on their wall and ask if anyone knows about good online degree programs. They can give you assistance not just on where the online programs are, but feedback about the classes that you need to take.

If they have a twitter feed, join it and pay close attention to their ‘tweets’. Ask if anyone has any leads on online college programs and follow up on any resources that they offer.

Join the Connect to College Facebook Page

Connect to College is the official College Board Facebook Page. The College Board is constantly updating their Facebook page to provide important information for prospective college students. This is a resource you will want to check out as you continue your search.

https://www.facebook.com/ConnectToCollege

Use Twitter

Twitter is a great resource if you use it well. You’ll want to create #hashtags related to the subject(s) that you wish to study and the degree you wish to obtain. But remember, not all degree programs use the same language. This is particularly true in the IT field. For instance, if you want a degree in web page design, you will want to use the hashtag #webdesigndegree, but realize that some schools teach web design as part of a broader Information Technologies Degree. In this case, you’d probably want to enter the #itdegree as well. Do a careful search to see what #hashtags make sense for your particular search.

Another tip you don’t want to forget is to use a #hashtag for both online degree and distance learning. Finally, make sure you tweet a general question about an online degree in your subject area. Someone with information is sure to tweet back.

Ask Friends

Let your friends know that you are looking for a particular degree program. Some of your friends or acquaintances might be aware of additional resources. Find out whether any you know is connected to organizations that interest you through Branch Out. If you are able to connect to someone in the field, they might also be able to give you some insider information.

https://www.facebook.com/appcenter/branchout

Have You Narrowed Your Choices?

If you think you’ve found the right program, here are three more vital steps. First, if the college has a Facebook page, see if there is a community board. If there is, ask students that are currently enrolled in the program for feedback. There is often no better advice than information from current students. They can tell you what the program is like and what you can expect, should you decide to matriculate.

Second, check out LinkedIn’s university pages. You want to view alumni of the program that you are interested in making an application. It’s important to know if the program is able to meet your ultimate career objectives. One way to do this is to view the careers of other recent graduates of the program. Are they employed in a career that interests you?

Finally, follow the hash tags of colleges that you are interested in just to see what students are talking about. They’ll give you a lot of information, if you just listen!

By: Ashley Dunlap

Online Marketing Specialist for The Learning House and works with several universities including Notre Dame College Online and Shorter University Online.

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