UK uses Facebook to help recruit students

By Fink Densford

UK wants to be your friend on Facebook.

Prospective UK students may be seeing this more often as social networking sites become an important tool in college recruitment.

A 2010 Kaplan survey reported that 82 percent of admissions officers use Facebook as part of their admissions and recruitment process, and 56 percent use Twitter.

“We use it to the degree of getting information out to students– working with public relations and marketing to try and get in touch with students,” Stephen Barnett, associate director of Admissions at UK, said.

UK even has its own Twitter account, which Barnett said could be used to respond and communicate to prospective students who had questions about coming to UK.

“I think it is extremely important to try to stay in the future as much as possible with social networking because it is so prevalent, specifically with age group for incoming freshman,” Barnett said.

While social networking sites may be used for recruiting, Barnett said they were not checking the Facebook or Twitter pages of new students to decide whether or not to admit prospective students.

“In terms of searching out students through their Facebook or Twitter pages, we’re not doing that at all,” Barnett said. “It’s not changing any time in the future.”

For prospective graduate students, however, Facebook and Twitter do not play an important role, said Patricia Bond, dean assistant senior of the Graduate School.

“The Graduate School has passed on opportunities to add social media contact for prospective graduate students,” Bond said.

Bond said that graduate student recruitment process was still more focused on the faculty, but that they were open to changes in the future.

“We, quite naturally, will continue to listen to trends, but thus far, prospective graduate students do not seem to use social media in the process of admissions decision-making,” Bond said.

Barnett said the undergraduate admissions department is also open to change in new ways of getting their information out to prospective students as well.

“We’re always working to get feedback from existing or new students to learn how we can improve our services and make our university more accessible to them,” Barnett said.

Even though the social networking sites were becoming more important in recruiting and spreading information about UK, Barnett said that the sites still had a minor role in admissions.

“We have to make sure we have a presence so we’re not missing students, Barnett said, “but it is in no way making up a significant portion of the recruitment process.”