Social Media Helps First Generation College Applicants Succeed

Jennifer Wheary
October 18, 2013

Twitter and Facebook can play a role in helping first-generation college students succeed by extending their social network and providing access to valuable information and potential opportunities. This is the conclusion of research by Nicole Ellison at the University of Michigan and discussed in an article this week by Stephanie Dilworth of the Daily Michigan.

Ellison studied 500 low-income high school students and examined the impact of various forms of social capital on their familiarity, confidence and success in the college application process. Dilworth reports that:

Those students who use social media to find answers to their questions about the college application process are nearly twice as confident in applying for college than students who do not use social media to obtain information.

Students who use social media sites to gain information about college are also 2.3 times more confident in their ability to succeed in school than students who have not asked online peers college related questions.

(Ellison and several co-authors have  published more specifics on the outcomes of the research here.)

Encouraged by the results, Ellison and colleagues at the University of Oxford and Michigan State University are developing a Facebook application to help students visualize their networks and highlight people that are associated with a university. 

This work highlights the ability of social media to provide first generation students with information, emotional support, and ultimately a professional network. There is definitely more to watch and learn from here.


This blog was originally published on PolicyShop, the Demos blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

This blog is part of the joint Demos and SparkAction project, First to Finish College.