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Student bloggers give insiders' view to prospective students, families

by Sherry Fisher - December 10, 2007

How can prospective students and their families learn about life at the University first hand without setting foot on campus?

It’s simple: Head to UConn’s admissions web site and read the student blogs.

The blogs are designed to give prospective students, their parents, and other audiences a dynamic snapshot of life at UConn. On the site, six bloggers write about their daily lives at the University.

Patricia Fazio, manager of marketing services, says, “Today’s high school students use the web to get much of their information about colleges, and the blogs add a personal dimension.”

The bloggers – three men and three women – were recommended by Maria Sedotti, coordinator of orientation services, for whom they served as leaders during the summer.

“Because they’re already knowledgeable about UConn and the type of information incoming students are looking for, they were a natural fit for blogging,” Fazio says.

“They went through an interview process and were selected because they’re representative of UConn’s students. They are a diverse group, with a variety of interests, and are actively engaged in the UConn community.”

Each blogger has his or her own page, including a profile and photograph. They are encouraged to write briefly, several times a week, about their lives at UConn.

They post under categories including: classes; class work; my friends; “funny stuff”; my job; and student life. Their entries are not previewed or filtered.

“We ask the bloggers not to sugarcoat their experiences,” Fazio says.

“We’ve asked them to blog because we want them to articulate what life for them at the University is really like.”

Those who read the blogs may post comments or ask questions. Blog writers are encouraged to respond to and engage their audience.

This is the second year blogs have been used to share information with the public. Last year, the bloggers selected were student workers at the Lodewick Visitors Center.

“Prospective students are able to access the web from around the world, and get an insider’s view of living and learning occurring at Storrs,” Fazio says.

“Each student has had a very different experience. Their voices complement the informational material that prospective students receive. While brochures and other promotional materials certainly are important, we think prospective students appreciate the honesty they get from a student who is already here.”

A screenshot of the student blogs homepage.

The bloggers, who are identified only by first name on the site, agree.

“Blogging is a good way for students to learn about the University, because bloggers are going to give you the unadulterated, no-holds-barred look into the life of a real University student,” says Fernando, a junior majoring in English.

“Blogging is free writing, uninhibited by literary constructs. Its brevity and candor make it an appealing venue for young, Internet-savvy students who are always on the go.”

Justine, a junior majoring in pharmacy, says she enjoys being a blogger.

“As one of the student orientation leaders, I was able to prepare incoming students for their first year,” she says.

“Now, we have the opportunity to reach out to high school students before they even set foot on campus. I really love sharing my UConn experiences with those interested in reading about them.”

She adds, “It wasn’t that long ago that I was looking at colleges, and I remember it being a very overwhelming experience. If I had an outlet or way to see into what life was truly like as a student outside of the very structured tour, I would have jumped at that opportunity. With such a tech-savvy generation, blogs and other forms of Internet communication to reach out to incoming students are becoming more and more pertinent.”

Philip, a sophomore studying physiology and neurobiology, says the blogs “act as a sort of instruction manual to being a student at UConn.”

He also says blogging has given him an extra perk: his writing skills have improved.

“I get a chance to try out different styles of writing, and it serves as a type of practice when I have to write for my classes. I’ve noticed that my grades on papers and writing samples have improved from last year, and I attribute that to blogging for UConn.”

The student blogs are at: http://www.blogs.uconn.edu/.

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