Life at Rensselaer
Concept to Creation
Before the site launched, it was sketched out on paper. We looked at popular blogs on new sites and at other student life blogs at peer institutions. Most importantly, we talked to new and prospective students to understand what they wanted to see on a site like this.
The Life at Rensselaer site is as much an informative resource for prospective students as it is a powerful marketing tool for university administrators.
Admissions counselors can write endlessly about what makes Rensselaer great, but it will never be as compelling to students as what they can glean from their peers. The First-Year Experience office updates the site weekly with stories, photos, and videos by current students. Our bloggers write about classes, residence halls, weekend adventures, vacations, job hunting, or anything they want to. But, most importantly, we let them write about the good and the bad — providing a whole and truthful picture.
We track the site using Google Analytics and can use the information to select posts to feature on the front page. We also use it to provide feedback to our bloggers. Posts that are shared or have more views indicate that they were more interesting to readers.
The site is also linked to from several other Rensselaer sites, including the Admissions home page, so students had easy access to it. Posts and topics from the site also regularly appear near the top of search engine results.
In the weeks leading up to the enrollment deadline, we created a special page featuring posts about why our bloggers chose Rensselaer. This page became the featured post on our front page and garnered thousands of hits.
Life at Rensselaer is run off of WordPress, a standard in blogging. The site allows visiters to quickly meet our different bloggers, find posts by topics and interests, and even leave comments and ask questions. It has been a huge success at Rensselaer.