I recently read an article discussing a new trend of students bringing publicity to a university and in return, the student gets a scholarship or even a full ride to the college. The platform of choice for this article was twitter and the phenomenon started when a prospective student asked LSU how many retweets he would need to earn free tuition. This started a trend in 2017 of multiple students emailing various universities to ask how many retweets they need to get a full ride. Most universities respond with the location where a student can find scholarship opportunities.
However, there is more to this than meets the eye. Many college-age people in the US are incredibly immersed in social media and understand that these platforms are one of the many ways that universities and businesses can market themselves. There is also the issue that colleges in the US work very much like a business so marketing and money from private donors are incredibly important to them. But that also means that certain applicants can buy their way in if they come from a family that donates a significant amount of money to the university. The university says it awards scholarships to students based on academic merit but students whose family donate probably have an easy time getting in and maybe even getting a full-ride based solely on their families donation rather than on that students grades. So, if publicity from twitter brings notice and subsequent donors/money to the university, it is surprising that there isn’t a scholarship that exists in this facet.
If a student asks a university how many retweets they need, and the university gives them a number, it is likely that the student would have to become quite the entrepreneur to gain that number of retweets. It may also require so skillful marketing of their own. These are good qualities to instill in young students, especially those that want to go into business and marketing.
There is also a new, immerging issue that many students are more than qualified to go to college but don’t have the funds to get through. Tuition costs are rising across the country in both public and private schools but the funds of incoming students and their parents are not. More and more students are having to fall back on loans and scholarships but these don’t always cover all the costs associated with college. Providing an entrepreneurial scholarship for an incoming student that meets a ‘retweet’ quota first seems like a great new-age scholarship that will also help students who are capable but just not quite able to pay the bill.