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Prospective networking

MU effort lets accepted students create Web profiles
Monday, March 13, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:35 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Imagine you are applying to college. You are accepted at three universities and now you have to make a choice. Which school will you attend for the next four years?

You take the tours, you study the brochures, you peruse the Web sites and you think about it. You think about it a lot. What more can you do?

Now the MU Office of Admissions is offering accepted students one more option before they have to make the final call: a Web site called You@Mizzou.

It provides information to prospective students and also allows students to create social networks — much like they would at myspace.com or Facebook.com — through a program called U Peers.

“Our goal is ... to actually get more students that are accepted to enroll,” said Brad Finnegan, admissions recruitment coordinator.

After students are officially admitted, they receive an e-mail message directing them to You@Mizzou. The first thing they see is a black-and-gold-themed page. A Flash animation starts and the MU fight song plays as picturesque scenes of the campus appear.

Students can then enter the main site, full of articles and information meant to answer any questions. Articles cover topics such as life at MU, living in Columbia and living with roommates.

Also on the site are four blogs belonging to current students affiliated with the Admissions Office. The current students post blogs about life on campus, and the accepted applicants have the opportunity to post comments in which they can ask questions or just make general comments about the blogs.

U Peers allows students to meet each other and create electronic contacts. Accepted students register a screen name, which does not have to be their own name, and then have access to the social networking site. There they can make their own profiles where they can list information such as their hometown, a mini biography, their interest in music and their current relationship status.

“It allows students to feel more connected and have more info to see if MU is a good fit for them,” Finnegan said.

No addresses or phone numbers are posted, but students can contact each other and ask for such information, Finnegan said.

Finnegan said about 700 students are currently on U Peers. To date, a little more than 9,000 students have been accepted for the 2006-07 academic year. With similar acceptance numbers last year, the freshman class ended up with 4,718 students.

Finnegan said the Office of Admissions would know just what kind of effect the new Web site has on enrollment numbers a few weeks into the 2006-07 school year, when admission numbers are more accurate.

“It’s too early to see if it’s doing what it’s supposed to do,” Finnegan said.


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