UML using popular Web sites to attract students

12/11/2006
By From the Lowell Sun

By MEGHAN BURKE , Sun Correspondent

LOWELL -- Students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell are getting a taste of life beyond college.

They are using three of the most popular Web sites for teens -- Facebook.com, MySpace.com and Youtube.com -- to attract aspiring college students to their school's admissions page.

What started out as a simple business-class project has become not only a valuable tool for students, but has attracted the attention of the admissions staff, who have taken notice of the students' approach and have begun collaborating with the class.

"We are actually part of a business plan and design implementation, with the ability to see how it ends up," said Patrick Leger, a senior in Dr. Martin Moser's contemporary management business class.

Tom Taylor, dean of enrollment and student success, said that the students' project is beneficial because of the technology of social networking and "the most valuable connections are student-to-student interactions."

Moser, associate professor in the College of Management, along with his class, found that 80 percent of high-school students are responding to the e-mails to join a group on MySpace and Facebook.

"It's really opened my eyes up to the influence of the Internet," said student Patrick McNeill.

The Web sites, once students accept the invitation, are a way of getting feedback from prospective students.

There are interactive features, such as slideshows and discussion boards on topics like selecting your professors, purchasing books, as well as different scholarships the school offers.

Web sites also offer links to Youtube.com, where college students have created and filmed videos. One team created a video tour through a dorm.

The Admissions Department created 15 different Web sites that monitor which groups' Web sites were most successful.

"I was very impressed. They have developed very creative real methods on topics that students are interested in," Taylor said.