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Emerson, Harvard, Babson named among most social media-savvy colleges in country

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  July 19, 2012 05:13 PM

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Emerson Kid Lion.jpg

(Images created by Katie DeWitt)

Emerson College — home of Katie DeWitt’s Emerson Kid Lion — ranked first in social-media savvy in a set of rankings from HerCampus.com.

A website aimed at female college students has named Emerson College the most social media-savvy school in the country.

Harvard University — the birthplace of Facebook — came in third on that list, while Babson College is eighth.

Stephanie Kaplan, co-founder, CEO & editor-in-chief of Boston-based HerCampus.com, said Emerson’s ranking was based the school’s classes on social media, the wide embrace of social media outlets on campus, and direct observation.

“Anecdotally, we’ve been continually impressed by the social-media savvy among members of our team that go to Emerson,” Kaplan said in a phone interview from a lake in Maine on Thursday afternoon.

The HerCampus website, which bills itself as “the #1 online community for college women,” ranked colleges in 15 categories including best dining, best study abroad programs, most attractive, and best places to find a “Gay Best Friend Forever”—Emerson ranked second on that list, just below New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. (Northampton’s Smith College, an all-women’s school, was eighth.)

Harvard graduate Kaplan launched HerCampus in September 2009 with fellow 2010 grad Windsor Hanger and 2011 grad Annie Wang after the three won a Harvard business plan competition. The site has grown to include chapters at more than 200 colleges and has 1 million readers each month, according to a press release.

The rankings were announced July 18. Kaplan said they were assembled by HerCampus staff based on research conducted in its chapters across 44 of the 50 states and other sources. Though Boston-area schools appear repeatedly on the lists, Kaplan said that is due to the number and quality of schools in the area rather than any local bias.

“Boston obviously has the highest concentration of colleges and universities anywhere in the country,” she said. “There are more schools here, and more really good schools here.”

Other local institutions were recognized in the “Barstool/Jenna Marbles” category, which recognizes schools in touch with pop culture and viral media. Boston University was first in that category, while Harvard was fourth. Both also made the list of the 10 “Most Celebrified Schools” — those producing students who go on to fame.

BU was second in the “Most Newsworthy — Making News” category for generating headlines, acknowledging several allegations of sexual assaults at the university in the last school year.

Harvard was acknowledged in the “Most Presidential — Obama” category, as the president attended Harvard Law School, but not in the parallel category for Republican candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who rarely mentions his joint degrees in law and business from Harvard. Harvard comes in sixth in the category for producing the most Olympic athletes.

Though Harvard calls itself “the oldest institution of higher education in the United States,” it comes in fourth on the list of schools with the greatest traditions, behind William and Mary (which calls itself “the first college to become a university” in the US), West Point, and Auburn University.

The site also advises Harvard — and Yale — to watch their flanks with a list of “The New, New Ivies,” which it calls “the next big thing in academic excellence.” Boston College ranks 10th on that list, while Northeastern University is eighth, and Tufts University is second.

Kaplan said that while she and co-founders attended Harvard, the rest of their team all attended other schools. She said they are able to look at their alma mater with a critical eye and to recognize schools that are becoming increasingly competitive.

“I think each year new schools are standing out and earning new level of prestige that the Ivies might have previously had,” she said.

Boston College was fifth on the list of “Most Attractive Schools” (which honors the male students, not the campus), while UMass Amherst was fifth among the “Most Brodacious Schools” — those with large populations of white, upper-middle-class men who enjoy sports and drinking alcohol and are often members of fraternities.

No Massachusetts schools appeared in the lists of “Five Star Dining Schools,” “Top Study Abroad Schools,” “Most Newsworthy — Breaking News,” or the aforementioned “Most Presidential — Romney” category.

To see the full set of HerCampus.com rankings, click here.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @YTDowntown.

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