Dear Head of School:
I graduated from your school in the early nineties. My twentieth reunion is a little more then a year away and now, more then ever, I reflect back on how import my time at Prep was to me. I recently reached out to the development office and offered to help organize my class online. Between our upcoming reunion and the new likelihood of people looking for work, it seemed to me as though websites like Facebook and LinkedIn could be important means of communication.
I was very surprised to learn that these sites can’t be accessed from campus. I appreciate the need to keep students focused on their studies during the day, but with a firewall it’s quite easy for your school’s network to grant access to some, while restricting others. I’m very concerned about the impact of not allowing Advancement and Admission staff to access these critical communication tools. I strongly urge you to rethink this policy.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking Facebook is just for kids. I read the other day that the number of people over 35 on Facebook doubled in the last two months  and even more surprising to me was that people are spending more time on sites like Facebook then reading email. 
- I know the school puts a lot of effort in to its e-newsletter, but email just isn’t as effective as it once was. It doesn’t stand out. E-newsletters don’t work well on mobile devices and even more ineffectively only communicate one-way. Social Media sites let us participate in the conversation. Participation is what the new Internet is all about.
- Carnegie Mellon, where I went to college is using Facebook. They post updates, pictures, videos, events, which keep us all very informed and involved. Even better, we can add our comments and have conversation with other participating on the page.
- In addition to universities I also noticed the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) now has a Facebook page ( http://www.nais.org/go/facebook ). Their president Pat Bassett has recorded and posted videos online and their members are commenting.
I don’t have experience running a school like you, but I do run a business. As someone responsible for the success of my organization I’m sure I share many concerns like you over the lack of control within this new medium. It’s frightening to think anyone can say any thing about anyone any time, but when I stop and think about it that’s nothing new. I’m certain these conversations are going to happen with or without us. By harnessing and embracing social media Prep can be part of the conversation. By getting in the discussion the school can raise it’s message above the rest.
I look forward to discussing this further. If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to give me a call at the number below.