Last week, the #UMSocial team headed to Detroit for the day to attend Salesforce’s Higher Education Summit at Wayne State University. In addition to learning several tips and tricks on social media from the speakers and panelists, we learned a few interesting stats about the makeup of University students in the United States:


This may seem surprising while walking around a typical college campus, but with 33% of students transferring before earning a degree, and 400,000 dropping out annually, the presence of non-traditional students is more common than you may believe.  What does this mean? For one, we can no longer look at higher education as a simple time period. From gap years, transfers, attending multiple colleges and choosing to work while in school, there is no longer an atypical college experience. One way that the University of Michigan adapts to these changes is by offering online classes. Many students are choosing to add Coursera to their schedules, and teachers are offering more coursework, assignments, and lectures online. This gives students the flexibility to work where they choose and escape the confinement of a classroom, which is essential to many.

Another key focus of #HESummit13 was connecting with prospective and incoming students. Although it is said the demographic of Facebook is getting older, while Twitter is getting younger, the facts suggest otherwise.

75% of high school seniors prefer to go to a college Facebook pages to learn about social life

65% prefer to go to a college Facebook pages to learn about social life

57% watched YouTube videos about the school

45% are influenced by social media presence in the search process

Robert C Gillet said, “Today’s students are connected and we want to reach them in the ways that they want to be reached.” So how do we reach these students? At the University of Michigan, we can reach them through our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Google+, Linkedin, Foursquare, and this blog – but what else is there?

So far, one of the best ways we are reaching our students is with our students. With the @umichstudents Twitter account, prospective, incoming and current students can see the true UMich experience through the eyes of our students. They can interact with students that they may never meet offline, and ask questions about student life at Michigan. Having an unfiltered perspective has been a vital part of our social presence, and something many of our students love most about #UMSocial. 


In addition, we’ve partnered with Campus Information to answer questions from incoming students in real time. Incoming freshmen that are here for orientation can tweet using the hashtag #AskUMich, and should receive a response within the hour, given to them by the staff @umichcampusinfo or @umich. We feel giving students a digital platform to ask and answer their questions will aid in promoting further conversation, and a sense of camaraderie with both their class, and their University. 

Looking forward, our team plans to continue to engage with our students through social media, and hopefully come up with new ways to harness the power of our students and alumni base, and connect them digitally through our channels. Feel free to Tweet us if you have any ideas!