By: Laura Grimm
As the university pushes to attract more incoming freshmen, one student is blogging to help achieve that goal.
Chosen as a recipient of an honors apprentice scholarship, LaForce is required to work on a project under the supervision of a faculty member. Last semester, she ran a blog for current students, but she wanted to reach out further to prospective students considering MSUM.
“It’s really to keep prospective students informed about what’s going on on campus, to keep them connected to campus right away. I’d say the main goal is to give them a student’s opinion of what’s going on on campus,” LaForce said. “We want to give them a student’s perspective so that they can really understand how a student feels about the school—what we the student population think is pretty cool about it.”
So far, LaForce has written posts about her thoughts on MSUM, tips for campus tours, and the campus’ well-known and well-loved squirrels.
“I’m kind of trying to balance a little bit of serious things they really need to know and a little more fun things,” LaForce said.
Mary Maguire, the communications coordinator for the admissions office and LaForce’s advisor for the blog, feels this mixture of helpful and quirky gives prospective students a more well-rounded view of life at MSUM.
“Ultimately, since we work in undergraduate admissions, (the goal) is to have prospective students really get a feel for what’s on campus and what campus living is about,” Maguire said. “Just those quirky little things (like squirrels) you might not get if you just look at the website and look at majors. A lot of people just look at the cost and the major that they’re looking at.”
Being a Dragon ambassador and student orientation counselor (SOC), as well as being involved in other campus activities, helps LaForce stay connected with people and events on campus, giving her topics to blog about.
“Within all those different groups, there’s a lot of different people, so I met a lot of people on campus. It’s basically impossible for me to walk anywhere on campus without seeing at least one person I know, so I’m definitely very connected to the student population. Then as both a SOC and as a Dragon ambassador, it’s kind of part of the job to know what events are going on on campus and encouraging people to go to those events.”
Giving tours to prospective students as a Dragon ambassador lets her know what questions are most pressing for soon-to-be freshmen. Beyond just helping other students, though, she’s also gaining new experience and meeting personal goals.
“I want to go into student affairs, so having this experience I’m connecting with more people in the admissions office, so that’s helpful for me making those connections,” LaForce said. “It’s also definitely developing my writing skills and kind of helping me figure out what people want to know and what is helpful for prospective students.”
LaForce plans to graduate in spring of 2018, but the blog itself will stick around.
“Obviously, Rachel’s not going to be around forever, so my ideal goal would be to get a couple students involved. I spoke to her about getting stories from different students too, just to get different perspectives,” Maguire said. “She has a great perspective on campus and what it is, but if we can get people from different departments or international or diverse students, that would be great. But ultimately, get a couple students involved, get a few posts each week, and really be able to captivate the prospective student audience.”
Getting these new voices and perspectives will help the blog stay fresh, as well as make it relatable for a larger audience.
“There are so many students on campus that are involved in so many different things, and I’m sure I don’t even know a quarter of the things that go on on campus,” Maguire said. “When a student sees one thing, another student might not see it. Different perspectives coming into play will really help a lot with that.”
While the blog is aimed toward prospective students, LaForce believes it can also be a useful tool for current Dragons.
“I’m hoping to eventually do a post on different resources that we have on campus, so things like that could help out current students, and then even some fun posts, like the one about the squirrels,” LaForce said. “Current students could just get enjoyment reading those and discover what other students think is so special about MSUM.”
For LaForce, one of the most special things about MSUM is its community atmosphere.
“One huge part about being a Dragon is that sense of community. That’s one of the things that I love about this campus,” LaForce said. “I feel like we’re all so interconnected with each other, and even when you don’t know people or you aren’t familiar with a department, you can walk in there and talk to anyone, and it’s really comfortable and everyone’s friendly. I feel like other campuses aren’t quite as connected as us. I feel like we really focus on that sense of community. I’d say being a Dragon is being part of a community.”