7 Cool Ways Colleges Are Welcoming the Class of 2017

by Staff Writers

Moving up from high school to college comes crammed with a unique set of stressors, even for students who plan to live at home for the duration. Schools know this. And it certainly makes their jobs easier assisting new enrollees in growing acquainted with the ups, ups, downs, downs, lefts, rights, left, rights, Bs, As, and starts involved with the higher ed experience. Most of these involve an orientation, but others boast some clever strategies for reaching out.

  1. Twitter:

    Many colleges and universities turn toward social media to connect its brand new coterie of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshmen. Admissions offices encourage them to get to know one another using school-specific hashtags before beginning their semesters, usually providing upperclassmen and administrators for formal and informal questions and answers. Most members of the current crop of incoming college kids grew up with technology as an integral component of their educations, and social media as a major means of staying in touch (for good and for ill) with classmates. So it makes perfect sense that institutes of higher learning take to the 140-character chunks of love and hate and Kardashian that is Twitter in order to tantalize potential applicants.

  2. Facebook:

    And the very same logic for why schools reach out to incoming freshmen using Twitter obviously applies to its comparatively more histrionic counterpart. Rather than school-specific hashtags, social media-savvy admissions folks set up Facebook pages for students to gather and get acquainted with one another as well as gain more insight into what they might expect once classes start. Including, of course, the requisite staff members and mentoring juniors and seniors. Some take it to the next level by providing them with graphics for more spirited types to upload as their profile or cover photos.

  3. Pre-welcome welcomes:

    Northwestern University welcomes brand new Wildcats before it welcomes brand new Wildcats. Wait, what? Actually, this sort of programming is actually pretty common. To smooth the transition from high school graduate to greenhorn college student, the schools offer up a slew of different summertime activities. In Northwestern's case, they enjoy their pick of service projects during breaks, leadership programs, and other outlets for bonding with their fellow classmates. Obviously, participation remains entirely optional, but it still makes for something more nervous or sociable students might find appealing so they don't pop onto campus the first day not knowing anyone.

  4. Accepting their video applications:

    OK. So technically Tufts University started encouraging YouTube videos as a supplement to applications back in 2010. But they continue this precedent on into the current year, encouraging hopeful students to embrace their creativity through one-minute films. This fun little motion illustrates the school's burgeoning acceptance of new technology, drawing in members of the digital generation looking for somewhere a little more relevant to their interests. However, kids with more limited access to cameras, editing, software, and the Internet are not at a disadvantage – adding a YouTube video is only an option, not a requirement.

  5. T-shirts:

    Matching T-shirts helps build a sense of community, even if it is on the most basic of levels. That's why some schools, like University of Richmond, provide them to incoming freshmen wanting to show off their Class of 2017 pride. A small gesture but one meant to instill pride and hopefully some degree of belonging in a demographic who so often feels lost and lonely in a brand new environment away from mommy and/or daddy.

  6. Outdoor adventuring:

    Bucknell, Northwestern, and Cornell provide incoming students with outdoor programs to try and make some friends before embarking on their first year of college. Likely stemming from the same "Challenges = Bonding" attitude as countless Outward Bound and team building excursions, they thrust inchoate college kids into the wilderness alongside a reliable guide (because liability) and inside a camp-like setting. There, participants boat, rock climb, hike, bike, cave dive, and do other rigorous activities. For enrollees who enjoy spending time wallowing in Mother Gaia's fertile green womb, these offerings prove a fun and worthwhile way to pass the summertime.

  7. Liveblogging the process:

    High school graduates unable to contain their nerves over whether they'd be attending Johns Hopkins University this year flooded the admissions office's website on Dec. 14, 2012 and followed their live blog. There, the staff kept them up to date about the status of early enrollment applications, posting pictures to ramp up the anticipation. By the end of the day, their yesses and nos had been counted, and students were alerted over when they could start checking to see which they'd receive.