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Cover of Autumn 2002 - Winter 2003 Issue

Discover the Power in You

Longwood’s first Cormier Scholars are from left to right: Boone Prentice,
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Longwood is Virginia's first public university to develop a microsite to speak directly to high school students ...

Over the past five years, the Internet has become one of the most important recruitment tools for colleges and universities. In fact, a recent report compiled for the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that nearly nine in 10 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have Internet access, up from about three-quarters just five years ago.

But merely having a web site with standard information about admission requirements, financial aid and student activities isn't enough anymore to sustain the attention of Internet-savvy high school students who have come to expect an "experience" from the web.

With the launch of www.whylongwood.com in August, Longwood University is now part of a growing national trend of colleges across the country – and the first public university in Virginia – to create a separate "microsite" that speaks directly to high school students in a style and language that is less formal and more engaging. This new site, which has a separate URL from the university's main site (www.longwood.edu), appeals directly to teenagers considering higher education.

The site has numerous components usually not seen on traditional college web sites, such as streaming video, an interactive FAQ (frequently asked questions), a one-of-a-kind tuition calculator, a virtual campus tour and "The Longwood Show," a webcast news and entertainment program written and produced by Longwood students, which premiered in October.

"While our Longwood.edu site speaks to many different audiences – current students, faculty, staff, alumni and the public – our whylongwood.com site speaks directly to prospective students in a style and manner they feel comfortable with," says Bob Chonko, dean of enrollment management at Longwood University.

The microsite whylongwood.com was created by Longwood alum Dave Hooper, '00, director of web communications at Longwood. He said the site will eventually include "Longwood REAL Life" – a take on MTV's "The Real World" – which will chronicle the lives
of five Longwood students who will be writing online "episodes" about their college experiences and posting on-the-fly snapshots using pocket-size digital cameras given to them by the university.

"It's definitely a national trend for schools to look at the versatility of the Internet to really showcase the ‘real' college experience for prospective students while emphasizing their institution's unique qualities," Hooper says. "High school students want to see the campus and hear from current students. The only thing more real is for prospective students to actually come visit the campus, which we hope whylongwood.com will entice them to do."

The new microsite will be featured in a wide range of promotional efforts as part of the university's new marketing plan.