How Are You Welcoming the Class of 2016?

There’s nothing new about colleges and college students creating Class of 20XX Pages and Groups before school start. These groups offer an engaging medium for students to meet one another and discuss life before they arrive on campus.

While this is a best practice for institutions looking to build community and improve yield, rarely do we hear exactly what students are talking about, which conversations are most engaging, and how the medium affects the message.

In order to shed light on the qualitative aspects, we analyzed a dozen Facebook Pages and Groups for the incoming Class of 2016 at private universities in the U.S.  Our sample included both school-sponsored and third-party-created communities.

We’ll summarize our key takeaways below, but we also have the full report here to download: Class of 2016 Community Analysis.

What Do Students Talk About in their Class of 2016 Communities?

“Introduction posts” are extremely important for Pages and Groups. Because students are unable to see each other’s private profiles, these introduction posts are one of the only ways students can connect on topics like their shared major, hometown, or interests.

It’s great to see students connecting around important university topics like their major. If you are looking to create more engagement on your Page or Group, encourage students to talk about which subject they plan to major in. In our Schools App communities, students create a profile where they fill in their intended major and then are introduced to other students planning to study the same subject.

What’s Engaging Your Students?

We determined an “engaged post” to be one in which there were five or more comments. In order of most engaged, they are below:

  1. Majors and Region similarities (tie)
  2. Common interests
  3. Roommate seeking
  4. Introductions
  5. Undecided enrollment posts and campus activities (tie)
  6. Official questions about orientation, registration, and housing

While the most common types of posts were not always the most engaged posts, there are definitely some similarities and overlap. It’s important to note that some of the most engaged posts were written by confused students trying to find more information about orientation, registration, and housing, but these posts were not always getting responses in our sample.

These questions can easily be answered by an administrator monitoring the page. There is also a fine line between not enough and too much administrator involvement.  On one school’s Page, the administrator responded to almost every single post, often congratulating an admitted student. This Page had very little student-to-student interaction, leading us to believe that the omnipresence of the school administrator turned students off from using the Page to connect with future classmates.

Does the Medium Matter?

Although our sample size was small, we found significant differences in the types of posts that appeared on Pages as opposed to Groups, as well as what students were willing to share on official school-sponsored pages vs. a student-started or 3rd-party-created community.

Key for graph

  • Affirmative decision = stating their decision to enroll in the university
  • Current student = post by current student
  • Dorms = discussing the freshman dorms on campus
  • Roommate = students trying to find roommates
  • Undecided = sharing their indecision with potential classmates
  • Campus events = discussing events on campus, including Admitted Students’ Day

Download the Full Report

The biggest takeaway is that students just want to connect with their classmates by finding something in common – majors, hometowns, or interests.  Make sure to see our infographic What’s Happening with Facebook in College Admissions which also illustrates these points.

If you want to see our full analysis and takeaways see our Class of 2016 Community Analysis.