Chats and Blogs: The Brave New World of Admissions

Chats and Blogs: The Brave New World of Admissions

By Kelly Brooks-Staub

How much does a nursing education at Hopkins cost? What is the difference between the Accelerated and the Traditional options? What kind of housing is available for students in Baltimore?

These are just some of the questions that prospective and recently accepted nursing students ask the admissions staff at the Hopkins School of Nursing. In the past, the answers were obtained through phone calls, open houses, building tours, brochures, and written material.

Today, “technology has tremendously improved the recruitment process,” says Mary O’Rourke, Director of Admissions and Student Services. “We can reach many more students, with more up-to-date information, than ever before.”

This year, the school’s admissions office has implemented two web-based initiatives: online chats and student blogs. When the school began to conduct online chats in the spring of 2005, it positioned itself as a forerunner in recruitment technology, joining the 26.2 percent of college admissions offices nationwide that are currently offering online chats. And the school is one of the first divisions at Johns Hopkins to use a new cutting-edge recruiting tool: the student blog.

With the online chat, students from across the country log onto the school’s online chat webpage at a designated time, while the entire admissions staff logs on from a computer lab at the school. Students are able to type their questions, which are immediately answered by admissions staff.

As their fingers fly across the keys to answer the battery of questions—which come from approximately 100 students who join the chat—the staff members also engage in verbal banter among one another. “I’ve got the question about our Community Outreach Program!” “Who can answer a question about federal student loans?”

“The online chat is much more efficient than answering individual questions via e-mail,” says O’Rourke. “When I explain the difference between our Traditional and Accelerated options to one student, everyone else in the chatroom will see that answer too.”

Chats can be targeted to specific groups, she notes. “Some of our most successful chats have been with accepted students,” O’Rourke says. “They end up ‘meeting’ each other online before they even reach the school. Some organize opportunities to meet and become friends before they come to Baltimore.”

Inspired by the success of the online chat, the admissions office moved on to launch the student blog (from “weblog,” an online journal or diary). The nine Hopkins nursing student “bloggers” who keep these journals write about all aspects of their lives—academics, extracurricular activities, volunteer or work experiences, and even their personal lives.

“Reading the blog of an actual student can give a prospective student information that no admissions officer can convey,” says O’Rourke. “I hope that prospective students read it, identify with the student, and think to themselves, ‘Yes, I can do this too!’”

The blog website also features RSS (Really Simple Syndication) technology, which allows users to “subscribe” and to receive any new changes to the site as soon as they are made.

To join an online chat, visit the admissions website: /academics/admissions/. To read the student blogs, visit: Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Nursing Blogs.


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