Tag Archives: student video series

Potential students have questions. Provide answers. Get creative.

A previous blog entry lamented the lame state of FAQ pages and other stale/outmoded non-helpful attempts to help future students. How do we get past that? We listen, we look for creative solutions and we work with our talented current students.

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Our most notable effort is the Alyssa Answers Your Questions Q&As with student video blogger Alyssa Levenberg, part of her popular Alyssa Explains It All video blog series. The past two years, she has asked accepted students in our closed Class of 2017 and Class of 2018 Facebook groups to post questions she can answer in video form. The curious students — many of whom are still deciding between Oswego and other schools — have provided plenty of questions and this year (for the second time), Alyssa had so much that she developed a Part One and Part Two to accommodate all the answers.

These are not from-the-guidebook answers and this kind of project could worry any administrators who covet complete control of all communication channels. And while Alyssa gets questions on subjects students wouldn’t ask administrators in the first place, she handles them positively and constructively. She is an ambassador for Oswego (she’s interning with me this year) but I don’t stage manage her work … because, frankly, her video blogs wouldn’t be as successful if she didn’t have this kind of creative freedom. I may come back and say, “hey, maybe you can elaborate on this point for another video,” and sometimes we talk out potential video ideas, but once we sign off on a concept, she runs with it.

And if you’re considering Oswego, of course you would take Alyssa more seriously as a source than some old dude like me. Current students, I like to say, are what prospective students want to be because they can’t wait to get into college and live that life.

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“What’s the best dorm to live in?” We heard this countless times, in various forms, in the Class of 2017 group but there is no one answer, because it depends on what you want and what you value. How to communicate this? Again, we decided to get creative and tap our talented students.

The resulting “Why live in ___________?” video series was a team effort. Alex, an awesome contact in Residence Life and Housing (whom we invited to be part of the 2017 group) saw the value and worked with colleagues to find students to “sell” why their hall was a great place to live. My graduate assistant videographer at the time, Kevin Graham, spent a lot of time on interviews and editing, and did a phenomenal job on the finished product.

While not everybody will sit through 13 videos, having the playlist on YouTube — and shared on social media and embedded on our site — means viewers can browse. Others may find individual videos via the power of YouTube (and its parent company, Google) for searches … it’s no coincidence we phrased the title as a question. But it works better than some administrator talking or impersonal virtual tour embedded in an app you have to download because it’s widely accessible and has current students pitching their homes.

We don’t use video for everything. Last year, when we would see multiple questions in our Facebook groups on a particular club or aspect of campus, our interns would blog on that subject and we’d post up the link. In short, we let our audience interest drive some of our creative process. If we value our potential students, we should keep them in mind as we create content. And if current students can serve as virtual ambassadors, entertainingly explaining what college is like, they can connect even better.

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What’s there to do in Oswego? Kwame Belle’s Bucket List has answers.

Student-produced, student-focused web video has long been a goal of ours, and this year we’re thrilled to have not one but two hit video serials. In addition to the previously-mentioned freshman advice series Alyssa Explains It All, we have Kwame Belle’s Bucket List, which introduces viewers to interesting facets of our campus and community.

Kwame has been one of my best bloggers and this year stepped up to a social media internship, which requires producing some major work or works. One day he mentioned an idea he had of a bucket list where he solicited things to do before he graduated– in the Oswego community as well as around campus — and blog about doing them. I suggested a video series directed by talented graduate assistant Kevin Graham, and subsequently learned we’re all fans of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation series, which influenced the project.

In “Hitting the Ice,” Kwame gets skating tips from Olivia Boersen, captain of the Laker women’s hockey team.

Thus Kwame Belle’s Bucket List unfolds as a bit of a travelogue (minus Bourdain’s excessive drinking and swearing), as Kwame pursues each episode in a journalistic vein. He’ll interview fellow students partaking in a polar plunge, locals learning how to rock-climb or the captain of the women’s hockey team showing him skating tips. Kwame himself is a character, an engaging host and eager participant, never afraid of how foolish he may look in the process. He also brings intellectual heft to the proceedings: During an apple-picking episode, he juxtaposed the freshman and senior experience, discussed Sir Isaac Newton and pondered the anthropology of dating.

Since our major social media efforts should meet a goal, the bucket list answers one of the biggest questions from prospective and current students: What’s there to do in Oswego? We’re a small city on Lake Ontario and while scenery and a charming downtown are draws, we’re far from a metropolitan or cosmopolitan area. Students considering Oswego wonder if they’ll find anything to do and frequently ask the question.

We’ve focused on things to do that characterize the campus, town and region. For example, Kwame went fishing from the banks of the Oswego River for a recent episode; to send him on a chartered boat trip would have made for good video but would have represented something not affordable to most students. That he spent one episode soliciting opinions from students, which led to some subsequent shows, and seeks feedback via social media makes it interactive and somewhat user-driven.

The series draws respectable numbers — not as high as Alyssa’s, but constantly building — and has developed an ardent following among members of the campus community and alumni. The episodes are longer than I generally recommend for web video, but they create a compelling tale with the help of other characters and guides, so watching a whole episode is worth it. With he and Kevin working hard from a meaty roster of ideas, the main challenge will be when Kwame fulfills the ultimate item on his bucket list … and graduates from Oswego. Wherever he goes from here, it’s good to know his video adventures will live on.

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