How does the “Me Generation” announce which college they’ll attend? With a selfie, of course.
With deadlines for high school seniors to firm up their post-graduation plans quickly approaching, college acceptances are in the air for colleges in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Excited future North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia College students are showing their college choice with pride by posting selfies on social media sites.
For these students preparing to leave home and high school for the first time, the pictures are about much more than likes. It’s a way to jump-start their connection to the school they’ll call home for the next four (or more) years.
The colleges, which help facilitate interactions between students on social media, say online connections help build a comfort and familiarity with the school before students even step foot on campus.
“We want (incoming students) to feel comfortable with the Dragon family, to feel like they already have some roots down in our campus community prior to starting classes,” said Liz Gunter, assistant director of admissions at MSUM.
A New Community
Taking selfies in college gear isn’t that much different from how students of previous generations signaled they were part of a new college community, said David Westerman, an assistant professor of communication at NDSU.
“This goes back to pre-social media stuff,” Westerman said. “Students and their families have long bought the college sweatshirt after they accept, and worn that around to let people know.”
In the same way, Westerman said connecting to the school on social media allows new students to feel like they’re a part of that community.
After Anoka (Minn.) High School senior Sami Ploeger received her acceptance letter from NDSU last fall, she immediately posted a picture of herself with it on Facebook. She said it was her “most-liked photo ever” and helped her share the news with people in her family that she doesn’t talk to on a daily basis.
Identifying herself as a future NDSU student on social media helped Ploeger connect with other incoming freshmen at the school, including a future roommate.
Ploeger joined a Facebook community for the school’s new freshmen where she can get to know other people, ask questions and learn more about what her first year on campus will be like. Another future student saw Ploeger’s posts and messaged her because they had a lot in common and could become roommates. Even though Ploeger has three friends from high school also attending NDSU, she wanted to branch out.
The pair went out to dinner, met for coffee dates and even had a sleepover in preparation for their life together in the dorms next year. Her friends from high school used Facebook to do the same thing.
“I feel like I already know so many people and I haven’t even been there yet,” she said.