First Seven Weeks on Social Media

Supporting new students using digital channels

October 12, 2017

In the United States, first year experience (FYE) initiatives are plentiful. The rationale for these programs is fairly straightforward. New students have a lot of information, systems, and structures to process and learn during their first year at a university. FYE programs are generally included within strategic retention initiatives and they almost always contribute to a better student experience for new students.

Now that I'm living and working (most of the time anyway) in the UK and Europe, I'm not yet as plugged into student success initiatives on this side of the pond as I have been in the USA. However, an FYE program in Europe is doing some nifty stuff with social media and student success.

The First Seven Weeks initiative at the University of Limerick in the Republic of Ireland is unique. The focus of the program isn't for the entire academic year. It's more of a lengthy induction/orientation program (and that's a really smart move).

Using a variety of digital engagement channels to connect with students, the First Seven Weeks is "designed to provide strong, enhanced and targeted support...during the very early weeks."

Each week is presented as a different student success theme related to things like "settling in, study skills, meeting your advisor, health/well-being, learner support, civic engagement, and critical thinking."

I'm always asked by my university clients about which social media channels/sites/apps should be used to support a variety of initiatives. My answer is that the channels depend on goals, outcomes, strategy, and prevalence. The University of Limerick's First Seven Weeks initiative utilizes Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to connect, inform, and engage.

According to the program's website, the channel with the most engagement is the First Seven Week's Facebook page:

“Last year we took 1000s of questions through messenger and generally had an average response time of 5 minutes… thats pretty unreal going if we do say so ourselves.“

In addition to the above mentioned social networks, the F7W program also incorporates student-written blog posts about a variety of topics of interest to new students.


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