Colleges Harness the Power of Blogs

By Hiroki Murakami

Over here at The Next Great Generation, we're big advocates of giving Generation Y a voice to be heard among all things crowdsourcing and blogging. And we're not the only ones! Businesses are getting hip to blogging and colleges in particular are starting to realize the benefits.

Remember applying for college? Sorting through mountains of college mail and browsing countless websites (some better than others) was mind numbing. Despite the fun-filled -- yet possibly staged -- images portraying the "campus life," it's hard to really know... so what's life here really like?

Well, some colleges are turning to the right demographic to tell you how it really is: their students. Whether it's to reach next year's freshmen or engage their current campus, here are four colleges that are utilizing blogs in interesting ways:

1. Biola University's Biola Blogs

Biola University, a private evangelical university outside of LA, has certainly done a fine job of reaping the benefits of social media. It was recently ranked on StudentAdvisor's Top 100 Social Media Colleges and on U.S. News & World Report's "Up and Coming" list for the second year in a row. Just check out their campus hub Biola Now to see how it's done.

It's no secret the Millennial generation has varying relationships with religion compared to past decades. That can make choosing the campus with the right religious tone all the more complex.

Maybe that's why Biola created their Biola Blogs to showcase the thoughts and experiences of their religious Gen Y's.

Biola knows how to cast its characters. Going through the Biola Blogs is almost like reading the diaries of a religiously-inspired Breakfast Club with well-defined quirks and personalities.

2. John Hopkins University's Hopkins Interactive

John Hopkins University has received much recognition for its use of social media, ranking again at first place on StudentAdvisor's Top 100 Social Media Colleges list. While John Hopkins certainly knows their way around YouTube and Twitter, another place they have displayed their mastery is with student blogging.

What better way for a world-class university with 36 Nobel Prizes tied to its name to use social media than by amassing the intelligence of its own student body?

Hopkins Interactive does just that by culminating the blogs of over 23 students from across the University. The JSU blogs are as well written as they are innovative.

Examples include the Class of 2015 blog, which chronicles the lives of nine freshmen adjusting to the JSU life, or the Guest Blog which features a new student guest post each week. The Guest Blog has even created an interactive Google Map that plots the hometowns of each author from its four years of existence.

3. Colby College's insideColby

The insideColby motto,"for students, by students," holds true as Colby's hub for campus life churns out an impressive amount of student-manufactured videos, photos, podcasts and even has its own iPhone app.

In addition, insideColby has a five-person team of student bloggers to contribute their thoughts on all things student life. Between the media-rich entries, Colby's blog team helps distinguish insideColby as a community platform.

What's so striking about insideColby and the IC blogs is the presentation. The pseudo-graph paper background complimented by the sliders and recent Tweets is almost too much!

What better place to weave in some student blogging than in your own admissions website? Applying to MIT is no doubt a daunting task (I've never applied) but the admissions web portal is beautiful and probably makes that first step that much easier.

MIT's admissions bloggers are as quirky as they are articulate and it does wonders to dispel the stereotype of flocks of nerds in lab coats gathered around a set of beakers...or their own nuclear reactor, which is actually awesome. They each even get their own caricatured avatars!

What speaks volumes about MIT's approach to student blogging is the depth of content. From the bloggers' profiles to their articles, everything is what you'd expect from MIT while challenging its own clichés.

Inspired by what you saw? Check out your own campus website to see if your college or university has opportunities to become a student blogger. If not, you can always join us at The Next Great Generation!

This post originally appeared on TNGG .