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Bloggers give prospective students inside view

Friday, January 18, 2008  
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By Tracy Corcoran

Oklahoma Christian University has discovered an effective way to reach prospective students.

Web logs, also known as blogs, became a part of Oklahoma Christian’s Web site in 2003 and have been multiplying since.

“[The purpose of these blogs is] to give prospective students, either high school students looking at coming to OC or maybe even their parents, to see what it’s really like to be an OC student and what it’s like to be on our campus,” Ann White, web content coordinator said.

There are a variety of bloggers at Oklahoma Christian including teachers, nursing students, engineering students and freshmen.

“We like to get different perspectives so we try to find students who represent different view points on campus,” White said. “We try to choose students who are involved and interested in different things so that we’re not having all of our students talk about the same things they’re involved in.”

Professor of Bible Curt Niccum is one of the original bloggers. Niccum was approached to start writing because of his humorous AOL Instant Messenger away messages.

“My away messages became very popular, so IT asked me to think about doing a blog, which sort of moved my away messages to a bigger, wider format and allow me to do some other things,” Niccum said. “The main thing was to put some of my humor on there, in hopes that it may be enjoyable; and I could also talk about theological things.”

Niccum said the blogs are beneficial because they show a different side of Oklahoma Christian as a university.

He believes even though the university has a lot of well-qualified faculty, most people don’t think of humor or personal interaction when they think of going to a university.

“There is sort of this view of the university, which really is not accurate of OC,” Niccum said. “That’s not to say OC is not a university. I just think a lot of universities don’t realize the significance of interacting on a broader scale than just classroom lectures, and I think it helps students see that OC really is a different place than what you would get anywhere else.”

White wants all of the bloggers to be honest about their experience at Oklahoma Christian, so they are given a lot of freedom as to what they write about.

However, the bloggers cannot write about breaking school rules or policies. White encourages the bloggers to be honest about the hard parts of being at school and things they don’t like.

“If you read through their blogs, I’m sure you can see examples of frustration,” White said. “Every student has their times of stress and frustration. Sometimes that’s frustration with a class or rules or dorm life, and that’s ok.”

The university tries to give the bloggers as much freedom as they can.

“As long as they’re not defaming or breaking campus rules, we have a more or less hands off policy,” White said.

Karmon Vines, a freshman nursing major, writes about the daily experiences that impact her life the most. Vines tries to answer questions every prospective student might have.

“I write things that I think would be beneficial to the readers,” Vines said. “I know as a perspective student I had simple questions like: what is a typical day like, what are the dorms like, are classes hard? So, I try to write something that students would want to know or hear.

Vines believes the blogs make Oklahoma Christian stand out among other universities. 

Freshman history/political science major Ben Peterson said blogging is new to him, but he believes it is a good idea.

“It’s still a program that’s getting kicked off, but I think it’s a really good idea because it can give an insider’s view on what’s going on at OC,” Peterson said. “I think it’s a good thing because it’s trying to be honest about the experience.”

Erin Rawlins is a senior nursing student who said blogging is different than coming to visit Oklahoma Christian as a visitor because you get to read about what a nursing student’s life is like.

“My [blogs] are mostly about the nursing school,” Rawlins said. “They wanted a perspective of balancing nursing school and being involved in other activities, like track.”

Blogging helps Peterson, Rawlins and Vines because all of the student bloggers get paid for their entries.

“It works out really nice because I didn’t feel like I had time to take on a job,” Peterson said. “I could definitely use some quick cash.”

Blogging is a job the students take just as seriously as any other job.

Vines said she considers these blogs to be helping others make one of the most important decisions of their lives.

“I look at it more of a way to help people make potentially one of the biggest decisions of their life,” Vines said. “ It is so good to hear adults and the administration a prospective student talks to speak so highly of OC, but I think it really puts the ‘icing on the cake’ when a student, who lives here, eats here, goes to school here, has a life here, and who experiences things here views OC.”

While Niccum’s blogs are a bit different than the students, he also thinks these blogs are useful because they are making an impact on other’s lives.

“I really see the blogs as a means of making some type of difference in another person’s day, whether through a spiritual message or a funny message, or sometimes both,” Niccum said.

White said they are not generally looking for more bloggers, but if students are interested, they can contact her at the beginning of the school year.

White is looking for good writers and people who are involved at Oklahoma Christian.

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