NACAC08 in Review

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 30-09-2008-05-2008


I am back from NACAC08 in Seattle and have had a lot of time to reflect on the previous week.

First, it’s amazing to see the difference between a conference of ‘techies’ and a conference of ‘suits’.  Absolutely night and day.   No user-generated content.  The twitter backchannel was… well, it wasn’t. Blog… what’s that again?  There was one presentation on social media.  Did I mention there were nearly 6,000 people in attendance?

If you went to NACAC and have no clue what I’m talking about, keep an eye on HighEdWeb this coming week and watch the quality of content and connections made.   That is the future of web and conversation.   And that is the future of how you are going to need to have conversations with prospective students.

We had something great going at eduWeb08, and the HighEdWeb planning team has been smart enough to catch on and begin providing those avenues for discussion before, during, and after the conference.

I got so much more out of eduWeb due to social media because I could essentially ‘listen in’ to 2 other presentations while sitting in a 3rd, and still digest it all.  I could read many blog posts reviewing the events of the day and catch up on what I missed.

I just feel empty about the content on NACAC because the only way to consume it was to be in the session. My knowledge and learning was limited to what I could personally attend and sit in on. Nothing more.  I felt so out of touch with everything that was happening around me.

Oh well.  At least the scenery was great.

View the full set here.


Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 29-09-2008-05-2008


Another gem from Seth Godin:

It’s easy to be against something that you’re afraid of. And it’s easy to be afraid of something that you don’t understand.

As always, I apply his thoughts into a context of either my job or higher ed in general.  And this post, even if it’s just one brief thought, cleared up a lot of things in my mind today when it comes to resistance in the office towards new projects and change.

I have to educate and inform. It’s my obligation as a part of making change happen in the admissions/web world.

NACAC08: Day 1

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Recruitment, Social Media, Web, Zinch | Posted on 24-09-2008-05-2008


I have arrived in Seattle for NACAC08, and while I feel like I should be heading to bed soon, we’re going out to eat and then head to Safeco Field for a Mariners game.

Today was essentially travel + meeting the team and helping them set up their booth.  I also ran in to Steve Kappler who is now with ACT, and also chatted with the YouniversityTV and FireEngineRed crews.

YouniversityTV gave me a sneak peek of their new site, which they will soft launch tomorrow and go public with next week.  The facelift is a great change from the current site, although still flash based for the most part.  There will be additional features such as user generated content, submitted videos by students and schools, ratings and comments, and more.  It’ll be good.  Another site to monitor, but the more the merrier.. right? :)

Monster also announced today a revamp of  It gets a big FAIL so far from me since the comment feature is broken. NRCCUA has something up their sleeve in the admissions/high school student world as well, and I’ll share what I find out about their revamped site.

Big shout-out to Pauline from The C-Word, who I linked in this post. She’s a student at a college in the area and emailed me, so we’re going to get together and pick each other’s brains and learn more from each other.  Very excited about that.

Here are some pics from the trip so far.  To see them all, check out my Flickr group and submit yours too!

10 Reasons to Monitor Twitter

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Free, Management, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter | Posted on 23-09-2008-05-2008


I know I talk a lot about Twitter, and I know my research is showing that there are not that many students on it, but I truly believe that Twitter will eventually hit a tipping point with this demographic. It’s encouraging to see so many schools name-saving their accounts or starting to engage with people.

I want to provide you 10 reasons to monitor Twitter as a university or college, all from the past 10 days.

Read the rest of this entry »

See you in Seattle! NACAC08

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences | Posted on 22-09-2008-05-2008


In 2 days I’ll be flying out to Seattle for NACAC08.  Thanks to the awesome team at, I will be joining them and my Butler colleagues for the conference.  As a member of the Zinch Advisory Board I’ll be spending lots of time with the crew and getting to know them better, and helping out with a training session as an admission officer who uses the site.

Are you going to be in Seattle for NACAC08?  Let’s meet up!! Email me (bradjward at gmail dot com) or @bradjward me on Twitter.

If you’ll be there and you use Twitter, tag your tweets with #nacac08 and I will compile them at

If you’ll be there and you use Flickr, add your pictures to the NACAC08 Pool at

If you’ll be there and you’re in the Exhibitor Hall, stop by Booth 133 or 1309, where I’ll be hanging out a lot.

I’ve got a good list going already of people I hope to meet up with, including

  • @brianwmniles from TargetX
  • @kathrynspruill and @jbrower514 from Stein Communications
  • @tom8williams from Innogage
  • @krommenhoek, @mickhagen, @bradhagen and the others from Zinch
  • @donna_bowling from Mindpower, Inc.
  • The folks from Stamats, FireEngineRed and YouniversityTV
  • … and YOU! If you’re there, I want to meet you.

On the list for presentations I’m heading to include:

  • Meetings — Bane of your Existence?
  • Time to Talk: Current Trends in College Admission
  • Admission Best Practices: Perspectives from Around the World
  • Using Blogging and IM in Public and Private Universities
  • Enjoy the Green Pastures You Have: How to Develop Professionally in an Office You Love
  • Student Views on Technology in the College Admission Process

See you in Seattle!

10% of Admission Counselors…..

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Ethics, Facebook, Higher Education, Research, Social Media, Thoughts | Posted on 22-09-2008-05-2008


Follow me on a journey… a journey of bad data, stretched conclusions, and mysterious results.

On Sept. 18th, Kaplan released a survey (remember this one?) that “at ‘top schools’, one out of ten admissions officers has visited an applicant’s social networking Web site as part of the admissions decision-making process.” The survey was conducted with a whopping 320 admission counselors.  [Link]

I caught the story on Sept. 19th when the Chronicle Wired Campus posted the results [Link].  They state that “One in 10 admissions officers has looked at an applicant’s social-networking profile”, which is a much broader statement than the original survey. Kaplan notes that they looked at an applicant’s social-networking profile as part of the admissions decision-making process. Reporting Fail #1.

And here’s Reporting Fail #2: The Chronicle article states that “The company surveyed 320 institutions among U.S. News & World Report’s and Barron’s top 500.”  Look back at the Kaplan article to see that the methodology “for the 2008 survey, 320 admissions officers from the nation’s top 500 schools – as compiled from U.S. News & World Report’s “Ultimate College Directory” and Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges – were surveyed by telephone between July-Aug 2008.”

So unless the Chronicle can prove or reasonably assume that they only surveyed 1 worker at each school, this statement is incorrect and unreasonably stretches the data across a wider sample.  We have 10 counselors at Butler. Kaplan could have called 32 schools and interviewed 10 people at each.  We don’t know, because it does not say.  But what we do know is that there is not a possible way to interview someone from all 500 schools when only 320 people were interviewed.

I admit that I should have clicked back to the original Kaplan press release to read more, but I took the Chronicle post for what it was worth, and commented “10% of counselors? Hardly an issue. Most of those who looked were probably only there because the student requested to be their friend.”  I can think of several instances where my co-workers have had prospective students friend them on Facebook, myself included.  And most of the time, I look at their profile to see who they are.

Fast-forward to September 21st on Slashdot, which a member reports “10 Percent of Colleges Check Applicants’ Social Profiles” [Link].  The schools involved are now only “prestigious” ones.  Following this article is a very heated discussion about this, over 300 comments at the time of this writing.

So we’ve gone from 32 out of 320 admission officers saying they have looked at a social networking profile of an applicant as a part of the admissions decision-making process, to 320 institutions being surveyed and 10% saying that they look at social networking profiles, to now…. 10% of colleges checking social profiles.

I’ve given the office a pretty basic explanation of how social media fits into the admission process. If you do it for one, you must do it for all.   And since you can’t do it for all, then just don’t do it.   Seems to work fine so far.  But when a student reaches out to be my friend on Facebook, then I friend them. And they usually ask me questions, because that is how they communicate.   It’s probably easier for me since I don’t read apps or make decisions, but I know our staff does a great job at evaluating the applicant the same as everyone else, and based solely on the materials included in the app.

How does your school handle all of this?

Book Review: Slide:ology

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Books, Conferences, Speaking, Thoughts | Posted on 19-09-2008-05-2008


I’ve started to prepare my presentation for the Stamats Integrated Marketing Conference and picked up a book last month called Slide:ology.

At a little over $20, you definitely get your $$ worth from this hefty 294 page book.  It’s jam packed with information about creating great presentations.  From how to present data, organize slides, choose color palettes, to slide composition and much more, I don’t see how you could miss out on this book if you are a presenter.  Veteran, first-timer, or somewhere in between, you WILL find something in this book for you. Even if you’re just giving presentations to prospective families or to the office, better slides will engage the viewer more.

Needless to say, I’ll be keeping this book near and dear to me up to the October 20th deadline for my  presentation slides for “The [Recruitment] Long Tail.”  I hope I can achieve half of the awesomeness that this book provides for making presentation slides. The book just makes you want to make great slides.

Buy Slide:ology today!

Flair Friday

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in fun, Higher Education | Posted on 12-09-2008-05-2008


Lots of stuff going on in the office that I look forward to posting about, but here’s a post to get us to the weekend.

Flair Friday.

I know you all have buttons in your office from campus events, etc.  I decided that in addition to the newly implemented “you must wear a tie on Friday” rule, I’m going to add some flair as well.

Show me your flair! Send me an image link on twitter, email me, or post a comment with a link here and I’ll post them next Friday.

Here is my flair:

Here is @drewsmc‘s from

Here is @rachelwebster‘s from SUNY-New Paltz.

Here is @kyleplacy‘s from

Let’s see yours!

Carleton College: Come visit, on us.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Thoughts, Zinch | Posted on 09-09-2008-05-2008


While I am still trying to get some measly gas cards to give out, Carleton College in Northfield, MN is giving away all-expenses paid trips to come visit their college.

Nancy, a high school student who contributes to the blog at, writes:

I got a small pamphlet-like letter in the mail late last week from Carleton College inviting me to enter a sort of contest where about 50 kids from under-represented groups get an all-expenses paid trip (YES, THAT INCLUDES AIR-FARE!) to spend three days on their campus. My initial reaction was: “WHATTTTT?! THIS IS AWESOME!!! *runs around house screaming*”

I think it’s safe to say that she feels special, selected, impressed, lucky, excited… you name it.

Head over to the Zinch Blog to read the rest of the blog post.

I had a chance to meet Matthew Ryan, the Associate Director of Web Communications and Development at Carleton during our flight delay after eduWeb.  They’ve got a lot of great stuff on their site, like this student-produced video about Carleton.

And I’ll leave you with one more quote from Nancy:

A piece of advice to all other colleges: If you want students to get more interested in your school, just offer them free trips! Please learn from the almighty, glorious, and benevolent Carleton College!

Review of our Youniversity.TV Experience

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Free, Video, Web | Posted on 08-09-2008-05-2008


We just received our final video from, and I wanted to share a few thoughts on our experience with them since I know many other colleges are considering their services.

Our timeline went something like this:

Read the rest of this entry »