Colleges use Web to recruit students Access: Twenty-three Baltimore-area schools have joined forces to create Collegetown, a web site that gives the scoop on local hot spots.

December 01, 1996|By JANICE D'ARCY | JANICE D'ARCY,SUN STAFF

Recruiters from colleges in and around Baltimore have long touted location as a top reason to attend school here. They point out Baltimore's proximity to Washington, Philadelphia and New York, not to mention how close it is to picturesque Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay.

Few potential tuition-payers were tempted by the charms within city limits. Baltimore, the theory went, was a great city because it was easy to get out of - not stay in.

But now a group of educators and students from the region's 23 colleges is trying to change that. The group has created a computer web site - http://www.colltown.org - it hopes recruiters, students and anyone wandering through the World Wide Web will use to discover that Baltimore is indeed a cool place to hang out.

The web site, which was released on the Internet in September, is a fast-paced, colorful slide-show of the city's entertainment, cultural and literary hot spots. Focusing less on academic opportunities in the city, the site lists happenings in the area, a short history of the city, an online spoof magazine and sports events. At each page, the reader can access information on any of the participating colleges.

John McFadden, director of information services at Loyola College and financial manager of the web site project, said its purpose is to retain and attract students.

"We want the students who are here to feel good, to know they live in an exciting city," he said. "And of course, we want to attract new students."

Recruiters who have used the website to brush up on their knowledge of Baltimore hot spots, or to direct college candidates to them, say it has changed their perspective.

"Before we were narrowly focused. We had our own little niche," said Jill Yanke, a recruitment officer at Villa Julie College.

"Now all the colleges can use this - It's a great recruiting tool. We're hoping it will help us draw students from a wider area."

Yanke also will use it to answer the questions she is asked most frequently: "What is there to do here? Where can I go to hang out?"

The site was created by four Maryland Institute, College of Art students, who spent a combined 1,500 hours designing the pages and compiling the information that decorates them.

One of the designers, Andrew Spangler, 21, said the website gave him a new outlook on his college town. He had chosen Maryland Institute over the Rhode Island Institute of Design not because of Bertha's Mussels, but for the school's financial aid package.

During his four years in the city he thought of it as "small and comfortable." Then he worked on the website.

"There were so many things in the area I had no idea existed," Spangler marveled, rattling off a list of quirky goings-on in the city - such as duckpin bowling in Charles Village.

One of his colleagues, Becky Bochatey, also a 21-year-old senior, chose the Maryland Institute for the school's high-caliber work. After leaving her Washington home, she assumed she would be spending a lot of time commuting to Philadelphia or New York or home.

"But once I came here, I saw how much there was to do," she said.

She wants the web site to keep the 101,000 students in the area informed about events at each college.

"Before, I'd see a flier too late about a lecture or something on another campus," she said. "The website keeps people in touch, xTC can find out in advance" about events at all the campuses.

The $20,000 project is the first joint effort for the Baltimore schools. Collaborative efforts had been considered risky, officials several colleges said, because in the increasingly expensive world of education, institutions often compete for students.

But when a team from eight area colleges began working on what originally was planned as an intercampus calendar, they found most colleges in Baltimore city and county have little in common.

The Rev. Harold Ridley, Loyola College president, pointed out that most of the 23 colleges, including Morgan State University, Goucher College, Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Baltimore International Culinary College and the Peabody Institute, are highly specialized and don't compete.

"We can cooperate without shooting ourselves in the foot," he said.

Pub Date: 12/01/96

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