Sometimes things just work out.
Every other year or so, I venture outside my silo here at University News in order to find out what my peers are up to. Professional development, we like to call it, offers an important avenue to learn what’s new in the profession while enjoying the chance to reenergize and refocus.
Earlier this month, I traveled to San Diego to attend Communications, Marketing and Technology, a conference for higher education communicators sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. I say that “sometimes things just work out” because the conference offered an ideal agenda for my attendance, and it happened to be in one of my favorite cities, which happens to be where one of my sisters lives. Of course, I added in a little vacation time to maximize my trip west—even brought my dad along. We got to catch my Padres in action. They lost, of course.
Any who, to be honest, the conference was a bit of a disappointment. But one of the highlights came with the keynote address presented by Fritz McDonald, an associate of Stamats research firm. He discussed the agency’s annual “TeensTALK” survey—loaded with fascinating insights on the views of increasingly savvy students who are in the market for a college to attend. There was so much good information, but I want to zero in on just one of the survey’s findings.
Among high school juniors, what’s considered to be helpful sources of information during the college evaluation process? Not surprisingly, the top response is the campus visit. Seventy-five percent find that beneficial. But what’s second? College Web sites? View books? U.S. News and World Report rankings? Not even close. Sixty percent say “course catalogs” are more important. Wow, not a very glamorous response, consider the glitzy nature of today’s view books and the publicity associated with annual college rankings.
McDonald explained it this way. Students can read the course catalogs and actually visualize what it’s like to sit in certain classes. It’s authentic, he says. Imagine that, kids actually selecting substance over style.
So what does that mean, particularly for those of us in the college and university communications field? It means information is still king! And in an era that’s witnessing an explosion of new media—blogs, podcasts, YouTube—it’s nice to know that substance still matters.
I’m hoping that’s what you find as you sample the various outlets for RIT information we’re supplying here at University News. If not, please let me know. Sometimes you have to work a little harder to make things work, and that’s okay too.