It’s the beginning of May, and your college search is finally over. Your deposit has been submitted and you’ve found “the one”: the university where you’re going to spend the next few years of your life and learn invaluable lessons. It’s also the place where you’re going to make lifelong friends. Meeting new people, though, can begin before you even set foot on campus for freshman orientation. We all know of the infamous accepted student groups on Facebook, and, whether or not you’re an active participant, they’re definitely a fun and fast way to get to know your future peers.
Most schools establish these groups as a forum for students to voice their excitement for the upcoming months, share a bit about themselves, and ask questions to the group administrators (usually Admissions staffers). What’s even more interesting is the use of these groups to find prospective roommates. Though some universities employ outside sites like RoomSurf to conduct roommate matching surveys, others create separate Facebook groups where incoming students are encouraged to share information and preferences. In my case, a survey consisting of a few basic questions was used, and one could always share a personal note at the end before posting. This system existed in conjunction with a formal, short survey conducted by the university itself (questions involving smoking/non-smoking preferences, noise level preferences, etc.).
The Washington Post reflected on the meshing of social media and college admissions in 2010, stating that students use such groups to even conduct their own independent rendezvous prior to the academic year. The opportunity that social media presents for incoming college freshmen is, in a sense, an introduction to networking. What’s more, students now possess the ability to scope out their future peers in a way that will familiarize them with a school they don’t yet attend. There’s nothing better than showing up on move-in day with a slew of familiar faces along for the ride.
When sifting through the posts of future classmates, it’s important to remember a few things. First off, don’t be judgmental. Chances are everyone has nerves and is getting worked up about leaving home for the first time, to some degree. It’s also crucial that one doesn’t overflow the group with constant postings. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but leaves little room for open conversation and discussion among members. That’s not the kind of way to get yourself remembered by people! Being honest is the truest way of doing so. HerCampus advises students to use what’s called the “grandparent test” when posting in accepted student groups: don’t post anything too personal, risque, or touchy that you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with your grandparents. Another important guideline? Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with a stranger in real life. Chances are it’ll sound as awkward online as it would in person. This can involve everything from comments on underage drinking and partying to political views. Remember, most of these groups have administrators and moderators who are university-employed. Don’t make admissions staffers re-think their decision. You were accepted for a reason!
Perhaps one of the most exciting features of an accepted student group is the ability to ask questions. Everything ranging from the dimensions of your dorm’s floor to mini fridge rentals and scheduling is fair game. No matter the concern, worry, or inquiry, these groups are excellent resources to get the answers you’re looking for. Try not to post so incessantly that your peers are intimidated, but definitely remember that asking questions is an option–and that, most of the time, someone will be prepared with an answer! It’s like teachers always say: no question is a stupid question. If you have a question, someone else has most likely been asking themselves the same thing. You’ll be helping out more than one person, that’s for sure.
Accepted student groups are nothing to be wary of; in fact, they can introduce you to some of your greatest friends. Use your judgment when posting, but feel free to take surveys and respond to others’ comments as a way of interacting with your peers. These are the people you’ll be sharing a home with for the next four years of your life, and the use of social media is a wonderful opportunity to familiarize yourself.