Where does Clubhouse fit in within college admissions and recruitment?
Updated: May 19
Everyone’s talking about Clubhouse—the latest social media app to hit the scene.
And what better time for it to arrive than at the point in the pandemic when it’s actually such a relief to engage with others “cameras off" for once; you can really multi-task!
If you're unfamiliar or haven’t yet been invited to the app (which is still invite-only), Clubhouse is an audio-only networking app that lets you drop into rooms and either be a fly on the wall or an active participant in the relevant discussion—it’s up to you.
But there's no video and no way to send a message to anyone (besides following someone's Instagram or Twitter accounts that they've linked and sending a message from there).
And the idea of being able to focus on the spoken word and not your appearance or anyone else's is kind of refreshing.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost track of what someone was saying in a Zoom meeting simply because of their unusual background... or when their fake virtual background started 'eating' their head... or when their on-camera movements just got too distracting (please stop walking and/or spinning; I'm getting dizzy).
...Not to mention the people who don't even realize their cameras are on (yes, I've been witness to the cringeworthy moment someone brought about 100 people or so on a Zoom call with them into the bathroom...).
Clubhouse is the perfect tool for people who still haven't learned Zoom etiquette.
Anyway, in my few short weeks on Clubhouse (@sara-cavalieri), I’ve connected mostly with other college consultants, but I also recently co-hosted my first room with Dr. Gena Lester, a U.S. college admissions expert, and Betsy Cadel, a college essay specialist; it was a fun way to hear what's happening in their neck of the woods and within their scope of work while answering admissions questions from others.
Having said that, I'm still confused about the blurring lines of my personal and professional lives here; do my colleagues in education really want/care to see that I'm also hanging out in a Chelsea FC room listening to people talk about the recent soccer match?
Either way, Clubhouse got me thinking… surely college consultants aren't the only ones who could use this.
Colleges (and students) love social media; whether it’s showcasing campus tours on TikTok, student takeovers on Instagram or actual social media ads on Facebook, they’ve got it all covered.
So where does Clubhouse fit in within the college admissions and recruitment game?
Here are a few ways I could see this social media tool being used by universities.
Virtual college 'fairs'
Since the pandemic started, we've been introduced to a wide range of virtual fair formats--some better than others.
Sometimes they involved a proper platform modelled virtually on what an in-person fair would look like, with various 'stands' you could click on to visit, and you'd then communicate with the reps via chat boxes.
Other fairs involved each rep staying in their own Zoom meeting room for hours waiting for people to drop in, which sometimes just became awkward and intimidating for students if they ended up being the only one in there, especially with the added pressure of feeling like they needed to have their video on as well.
So who's going to be the first to organize a virtual college fair on Clubhouse?
It would surely be cost effective; there is no need to pay for a third party platform and no limit to the number of people you can have in your room--unlike on Zoom, where you're limited based on your subscription level.
Academics offering 'taster' lectures for prospective students
Universities in the UK, for example, are really good about offering taster lessons on specific academic topics for prospective students weighing their university options and also wanting to learn a bit more about a given subject area at the same time.
Clubhouse could be a really unique way for academics (particularly younger ones) to not only entice future students to their programs but also to build a bit of a following of their own.
College admissions reps moving their webinars to Clubhouse rooms
PowerPoint fatigue, anyone?
As a former admissions rep myself (and personally more a fan of Prezi), I know I certainly would be welcoming the opportunity to get back to the basics of human interaction--no slides (and nobody reading from slides), no video--just good, old fashioned, off-the-cuff audio conversations.
But where's the line when it comes to students then 'following' that rep, and vice versa?
Connecting current students/alumni with prospective students
A university rep invites a few current students or alumni along to serve as moderators of a Clubhouse room.
Prospective students come along and get to ask those students questions.
Prospective students follow and connect with the current students or alumni.
Prospective students get to see regular updates about what those current students or alumni are doing, thus becoming more connected with that university at the same time.
It's kind of an indirect way of accomplishing recruitment goals--but quite possibly an innovative one (especially when recruitment budgets are tight).
Sure, these kinds of student chats have been happening via Zoom or Facebook Live sessions, but nobody asks for email addresses or social media accounts there; once it's over, the connections are usually lost.
On Clubhouse, however, the ability to connect is just there; it's a natural community-building tool.
Admissions reps notating the names of students who entered their rooms for demonstrated interest purposes
Now, this isn't relevant for students applying for college abroad (as demonstrated interest is not a thing in admissions overseas), but I could possibly see some U.S. colleges keeping track of students who entered their Clubhouse rooms and noting this interaction in their student files.
However, this does then beg the question... if admissions teams can look at Clubhouse for demonstrated interest, would they then go one step further during application season and start reviewing student Clubhouse profiles, too?
Like all other social media, Clubhouse has its pros and cons, but as it grows, I will certainly be watching this space to see how university admissions reps/recruiters interact within it--but then again, maybe they just won't.