Field Notes: Using Twitter and #EMchat for Professional Development

"Field Notes" is an occasional Connect column covering practical and philosophical issues facing admissions and registrar professionals. The columns are authored by various AACRAO members. If you have an idea for a column and would like to contribute, please send an email to the editor at connect@aacrao.org.

by Jennielle Strother, Vice President, Enrollment Management/Financial Aid, Seminary of the Southwest

Admit it, you’ve been there. It may be a wild challenge or demand you have never encountered before. It may be a seemingly “crazy idea” you are considering to attract or retain students. You likely felt as though you had no one to call and no one to consult.

Welcome to #EMchat, our online community share ideas, experiences, and expertise. We make each other stronger through dialogue and discussion. Members of our community share job postings, professional development opportunities, interesting articles or research about our profession, and offer support in times of need.

The price of entry is cheap: log on, tell us where you are from, what you do, and what you are drinking after a long week of performing what is arguably the toughest job on campus.

Twitter is a common tool used by institutions to connect with students and market a brand. Twitter is also emerging as an important and accessible tool for professional development for you and your staff.

Twitter hashtags and chats are everywhere; while many are user-created on the spot, there are a few established hashtags that actually connect you to a real community of real professionals. I am pleased to share that there is an enrollment management hashtag where professionals can network, ask questions, share articles and connect with other enrollment management professionals: #EMchat.

Since 2011, every Thursday night at 8:00 pm CDT, a group of enrollment managers (and others passionate about the profession) gather and have dialogue about a dedicated topic related to higher education, marketing, admissions, recruiting, retention, or financial aid. We spend an hour together, answering the questions posed by the moderator. Outside of the Thursday night hour, #EMchat serves as a real-time link to your peers across the country. It is not infrequent that we engage in lengthy discussions throughout the week.

Over a hundred chats later, we are still meeting weekly using Twitter as our tool to help each other solve our biggest enrollment problems. 

I have frequent conversations with colleagues about Twitter, encouraging them to look into opening an account. Inevitably, I get the comments, “I don’t have time”, or “What would I use it for anyway?”. It’s hard to explain to someone who has never used Twitter, how it has become the most valuable tool for professional development, but don’t take my word for it...here are a few tweets from the #EMchat community inviting you to join us and why:

Still confused about what #EMchat is and why you would even consider spending an hour “chatting” on Twitter about enrollment management with professionals across the country?

Maybe a pop culture reference might help!  

Do you remember the 1980’s sitcom, Cheers? Chances are if you have never watched it, you have heard the theme song.

 

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

and they're always glad you came.

You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name.

 

Consider taking a break from all your worries to join the conversation. I leave our weekly visits more confident, more energized, and more passionate about enrollment management--not as a job, but as a profession and a calling.

You can find us by using the hashtag: #EMchat. Our chats are scheduled most Thursday nights at 8:00 pm central. Still not convinced Twitter is for you? No problem! Our chats are archived on the website: EMchat.net.

Jennielle Strother (@EMjennielle) is vice president for enrollment management and financial aid at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX. Her email is Jennielle.Strother@ssw.edu.