Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Importance of Social Media to College Students

By Courtney Kaminski
As a marketing intern for Mulligan Management Group, I’ve learned how social media affects businesses and how to drive businesses with digital marketing. But how does it affect the rest of us? As a college student at Kent State University, I rely heavily on social media to get news and information throughout the day. However, social media receives a lot of backlash. Experts claim social media is distracting to students and affects the way they retain information. But I don’t think this is entirely true. College students aren’t just using social media to distract themselves from school work. Social media has many uses for college students. From searching for schools to meeting new friends, social media channels are just one of the most useful tools a college student has in their backpack.

Getting into College

As younger generations begin looking for colleges, they start to use social media and blogs more and more to influence their decision. A survey of 7,000 high school students by Zinch revealed that 68% of respondents used social media to research potential colleges and universities. Prospective students are looking at college backgrounds, how they interact with their students, and what current students are saying about colleges they are looking at. Colleges are no longer just using social media channels to inform students of events and happenings around campus. Kent State is really good at interacting with students on social media. They actively post and comment on Facebook and Twitter, giving students a sense of place and belonging.

Meet New Friends

Through Kent State, there are multiple Facebook pages and groups you can join. Right now, I belong to a Class of 2015 page, a Class of 2016 page (yay, I graduate soon!), a few textbook swap groups, and VCD, advertising, and marketing groups. Belonging to these groups and pages allows you to connect with people with the same interests and areas of study as you. As a commuter student my whole college career, I missed out on living on campus and making friends with the people in my dorm building. However, I had the chance to meet new friends on these pages. I met one of my best friends through the Class of 2015 Facebook page, and I know we’ll be friends for a lifetime because of it.

Staying Connected

When we graduate high school and leave for college, a lot of us may attend schools out of state. Many of my childhood friends have moved out-of-state over the past few years. The major way we stay connected is through social media. I have a friend who now lives in South Carolina, so we don’t get to talk as much as we used to. However, I get to see how she is doing through the things she posts on social media. I especially love the pictures she posts during the winter time when Ohio is covered in 3 feet of snow and they don't even have a single flake of snow in the South. Social media is a good way to stay connected to old friends without having to have lengthy conversations every time you talk.

Social media also helps students stay connected to classmates. Remember that girl that was in your group in Sociology class, but you never got her number and need to ask her a question? Facebook. Need to ask someone about a homework assignment because you missed class? Facebook. It’s so easy to look up someone’s name and shoot them a message. Facebook has saved me this way on a number of occasions. I never have to worry about finding a classmate’s email or phone number because I know I can spend 2 minutes on Facebook searching for them and they will most likely pop up.

Study-Buddy

Just the other day, as I was browsing Facebook, I came across a video about the different bottles Coca-Cola has used over the years. I am currently enrolled in a graphic design writing course and our final assignment for the semester is to write a research paper on something design related. Watching this video gave me my research topic: The Evolution of Packaging Design. This has happened to me many times; I will hit a roadblock and have no idea what I’m going to write about, so I take a break and check my social media channels and bam! An idea just presents itself to me. I think the same is true for a lot of college students. Most college students check social media to get the news or information about what's going on in the world. We don't check traditional news outlets because they aren't formatted to interest us. Without social media, a lot of us would never know what is happening outside of our lives.

Social media isn’t just for staying connected anymore. There are so many uses for social media. Whether you use it to look for a college, look at the news, to find new friends or stay connected with old ones, or use it for inspiration for a project, social media is useful to just about everyone. Especially college students.
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