Blogging @ MIT
The NYTimes has a nice article this morning about how MIT is embracing student bloggers as a way of connecting with high school students. It’s a good idea.
It’s very hard for high school students to get a feel for what a college is “really like”, and no amount of material prepared by the admission’s office is going to bridge that gap. There are a couple of reasons for this. There’s obviously difference in language and point of view between admission officers and high school students. But more fundamentally, someone who works in admissions is always going to view the act of communicating with a high school student as a task that is trying to accomplish a specific goal. That view is going to cause them to attempt to control the flow of information.
Direct blogging by students has the potential for changing the conversation. This has real benefits for the person reading the blog. The problem, of course, is that for this to really succeed, the people in admissions will need to step back and relinquish a lot of control. This is difficult. A number of software companies (including the one I work for) have tried to do something similar, but it results in a delicate balance between having a real conversation and accomplishing the company’s goals. It’s very hard to keep this sort of communication channel open and unfettered. The basic reason it’s hard is fear. An open channel isn’t safe, and it is the nature of large organizations to be risk adverse. It’s better to control the flow of information and be safe.
Go check out the blogs yourself and see what you think about how MIT is balancing this.