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Social Media Uses by Students in an Agricultural Student Orientation Course

Cramer, Cody
With discussion in popular press and research literature about social media's value and its uses, the researchers sought to examine the perceptions of students enrolled in an agricultural orientation course concerning their use of communications channels for information from their college. The college provides an assortment of academic, professional, and personal services information through multiple communications channels. Guided by the uses and gratifications theory, the researchers collected students' perceptions of the usefulness of these communications channels, including social media platforms Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. Various entities within the university use these social media platforms to share information with students. Data was collected via an online Qualtrics instrument in August 2012. Respondents ranged from 18 to 43 years old, and before college, the majority lived in a town with a population of 10,000 or more people. The data illustrate what channels students use and how they use them, specifically as they look for information about college and university programs or services. The respondents indicated they use email for college information most often, but they use Facebook as their primary social media platform, mainly to interact with friends and family. They indicated the college's Facebook page was useful. The researchers recommend agricultural colleges use email and Facebook as their primary methods to reach undergraduate students about scholarships, available jobs, and internships, but continue to monitor changes in students' media preferences.