NORTH PALM BEACH FL – The best places for this year’s seniors in the Pottsgrove, Pottstown and Spring-Ford Area school districts to find college money may no longer be their guidance offices, according to Bankrate.com. They may fare better at social media websites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, it said Wednesday (Aug. 13, 2014).
For aspiring college students, a traditional scholarship essay long has been the go-to method for finding “free” money to help offset the swelling costs of an education. Social media-savvy seniors are instead using quicker, smarter tactics to uncover cash for school, Florida-based Bankrate, a financial publisher, said.
More companies and institutions, Bankrate advised, are offering new scholarships that will help today’s college students use social media to help finance college costs.
College students admittedly have it tough. Members of the 2014 graduating class averaged $33,000 in student loan debt, according to a college planning website called Edvisors. Meanwhile, total student loan debt across the country exceeds $1 trillion. The Council of Economic Education claims that’s more than all outstanding credit card debt in the nation.
Today’s students must get creative to shrink those costs, Bankrate said. Enter the realm of social media.
More than 300,000 social posts have mentioned “scholarships” since July 1, the social media monitoring platform Topsy reports. Conversely, Google search volume for the term “scholarships” has dropped off by two-thirds in the last 10 years, according to a Google Trends query. Bankrate’s conclusion: students are moving the scholarship search away from search engines and toward social media.
Companies and institutions are catching on. Many are using social media not only as a tool to promote traditional essay-based scholarships, but also as a platform to introduce new strategies that speak directly to today’s college students.
- Dr. Pepper, for example, asks students to upload YouTube videos to enter their Dr. Pepper Tuition giveaway.
- DoSomething.org, a social change organization geared toward young people, offers texting challenges that help educate kids on the dangers of texting while driving for a chance to win money for school.
- Scholarships.com sticks to the essay formula, but asks entrants to distill their responses to 140-character tweets.
- Even Bankrate embraced the trend. It launched a scholarship around so-called “selfies,” or self-taken photographs. For an award of up to $3,000, the scholarship simply asks entrants to envision themselves 10 years from now in their dream career, snap a #FutureSelfie, and post it to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
With the cost of an education rising, more financial responsibility than ever before is likely to be placed on the shoulders, Bankrate concludes. More students are using social media to their advantage, it said, “and companies and institutions offering scholarships may need to catch on sooner rather than later.”