College in position to recruit tech-savvy students

Friday, July 28, 2006

Mid Plains Community College officials have their work cut out for them, and they know it.

While personal, face-to-face contact with guidance counselors or teachers remains the most important factor in determining where a student will go to college, Mid-Plains marketing and enrollment specialists know they are dealing with a different audience than they were 20, 10 or even five years ago.

Chuck Salestrom, area director of public information and marketing, and Brenda Costin, area dean of enrollment management, filled in the board of governors on their plans for reaching today's graduating seniors.

Thanks to the explosion of Internet, including fast broadband service, the horizon of today's student is not limited to his local high school, community college, or even state college or university.

They buy (or borrow or steal) their music via MP3 downloads, keep and meet friends via the Internet and write Blogs instead of diaries.

We won't get into the many online hazards at this time; students who are old enough to go to college already need to have those problems under control.

But anyone selling a college to a young student would be remiss in not taking advantage of the major pipeline direct to their audience.

Just how fast electronic communications is changing is evident from the latest trend:

For young people, e-mail is passť.

If they want to keep in touch with their friends, they send them an IM -- instant message -- via the Internet, or a text mail via their cellular phone.

It's not hard to understand why they feel that way. After all, bosses, parents and even grandparents know how to use e-mail. That attachment may be today's homework assignment, and who could look forward to that.

Besides, how many of us are spending precious morning minutes deleting dozens of spam e-mails touting stocks, diets, medications and hundreds of products and scams not worth mentioning?

As the Public Service Commission reported earlier this week, nearly the entire state has access to broadband Internet. And, thanks to pioneering efforts by Educational Service Units, most schools have effective electronic pipelines connecting them to the world.

McCook Community College has also been a leader in computer and online education, as well as hosting the high-tech 21st Century Systems company.

It's in a prime position to sell itself to the leading edge of tomorrow's tech-savvy generation.

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