Why do universities hire students to be bloggers?
Storytelling: When an institution allows its student bloggers to have an opportunity to share real stories, great things happen. Yes, sometimes student blogs can be peppy and full of an almost too-perfect form of positivity. And yet, for every uber positive post, the one's that really stand out and are much more engaging, are the posts that share real, human-centered stories. For example, when Michael C. shared that "MIT is unnecessarily hard," he immediately captured my attention. His post doesn't explicitly advertise MIT. Instead, he tells a compelling story of what life at MIT is really like and how the institution is preparing students for the "real world."
Advertorializing: How many student blogs for official university channels like admissions, student life, etc. sound like highly-produced advertorials? I've read far too many blog posts that read like they were written by a PR professional from the 1990s. There's no soul in these posts. Yes, they are written by students, but the reason for having students as bloggers seems to be lost. When student bloggers write posts, they should be writing about their experience at a university or college. Blogs are irrelevant and boring when they're turned into pseudo-promotional vehicles. Let students share what life is really like at a university.
Employability / Digital Literacy: Yes, this is a side benefit of having student bloggers, but isn't it great how schools can hire students and through the crucible of blogging, build up a student's digital literacy? And, as we know, with great digital literacy, employability is enhanced. Maybe this wasn't the primary reason for hiring a cadre of student bloggers, but it is an example of how students can learn, grow, and develop skills that are applicable for future careers. Honing their writing skills and working with social media channels in a professional context is a great benefit.
There are a lot of universities that are publishing/promoting a lot of student blogs. However, the best ones are those that let students express themselves as real people who are sharing real stories.
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