In the rise of the digital age, many colleges and universities are using social media as a means of sharing information about their schools with college-bound high school students.

Plattsburgh State, no stranger to this platform, currently has six social media accounts in order to represent the college — Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and Facebook — PSUC Senior Admissions Adviser Jessica Fish said.

“We cater primarily to prospective students,” Fish said, “but we also have a lot of follows from alumni and also from currently enrolled students too.”

Fish said PSUC has approximately 1,700 Instagram followers, as well as 2,745 followers on Twitter. While it is common for Twitter users to follow or unfollow all the time, these figures are as of Friday, April 10.

PSUC’s Instagram and Twitter accounts have been in practice for the last two years, Fish said, and the college has been on Facebook for six or seven years.

Additionally, these accounts are for admissions purposes only. There are other accounts run by the marketing and communications department on campus.

“Prospective students come onto a campus once or twice before they make a big decision, and some students don’t come onto campus at all before they decide to go and commit to a school,” Fish said. “It’s a big decision, and one of the best ways to know if it’s the right decision is to be able to see genuine content of what’s happening on a campus.”

Fish said the departments “heavily utilize” the hashtag “#plattslife,” and they put out a call at the beginning of the year for organizations and groups on campus to share what’s happening on campus via the hashtag. In turn, this may give prospective students an insider’s view on campus life.

“It provides another layer on top of the more formal communication that a website provides, that print materials provide, and it’s a great way to make an emotional and personal connection with students.”

Gabriela Barbosa is a visiting student from Goiás, one of the 26 Brazilian states, where she is considered a senior. She is a PSUC biology major, but in Brazil, she is considered a biomedical science major.

Barbosa originally found out about PSUC from the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, formerly known as Science Without Borders, aimed at helping Brazilian students study abroad in the U.S.

Through the program, she was offered a choice of colleges. From that, the Brazilian government chose PSUC based on her interests.

Barbosa said if she had not agreed with that decision at the time, she would have had the right to choose another college or university.

Once she learned where she would attend college, she began searching for information on PSUC’s website, as well as social media.

“In my case, (social media) helped me a lot because I could learn about the university without seeing it properly, so I could see the campus, the buildings, the professors,” Barbosa said. “A lot of things I learned from the website.”

Barbosa said that while there may be disadvantages to the use of social media, the convenience of being able to glean information directly from PSUC’s website, as well as being able to communicate with friends and family from home, outweighs the negatives.

Meanwhile, Carson Drake, a senior and environmental science major, said that when he was in high school, the majority of social media was used for “parties and bad rumors.”

“I don’t see the connection,” he said. “Whenever someone mentioned something about Facebook, someone mentioned something that pissed them off or someone posted something that made them laugh — nothing remotely to do with college, and for that matter, anything educational.”

Drake said a main problem in the digital age is a potential lack of context, and ideas can be misunderstood or lost. However, he said social media is a great way to network and schedule events, but it can also work against someone.

In Barnett’s case, because he searched for choice colleges far from home, Drake said social media has allowed him to stay in contact with loved ones who are far away.

“Ten or 20 years ago, I would feel lost,” Barbosa said. “Today, (now) that we have access to Internet and social media, it helps a lot. We don’t have trouble at all, because we just type what we want, and boom. Suddenly, it’s in front of you.”

Email Tim Lyman at timothy.lyman@cardinalpointsonline.com

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