On campus beat: Gustavus will try recruiting via iPad

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 22, 2012 - 8:14 PM

That high school junior's stack of college brochures just got lighter.

Gustavus Adolphus College is trading paper for an iPad app. Before, the college mailed out a traditional, 8-by-11 inch, 28-page "viewbook." Now, the idyllic campus photos and glowing student testimonials live within an iPad icon.

The St. Peter, Minn., school began talking about creating the free app months ago, after seeing more people buy and more school districts adopt iPads, said Tom Crady, vice president of enrollment management.

"The days of the printed viewbook are going by the wayside," he predicted.

Plus, sending out paper is pricey. The viewbook costs $5 to print and $1.70 to mail.

Many colleges are experimenting with iPads in the classroom. Some, including Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas, recently created iPad versions of their alumni magazines. Others offer iPad applications that lead you on a campus tour.

But an admissions app? That appears to be uncommon.

Gustavus is not getting rid of the viewbook entirely. But it hasn't printed new ones, instead mailing out postcards announcing the app. "If people want a viewbook, we'll still send it to them," Crady said.

The app greets families with a photo of Old Main and a message that ends, "Come visit us in person. Until then, check us out on your iPad." It's as pretty as a pamphlet, but slides and shifts and plays video. Touch a landscape to read one student's reflections on studying abroad.

It's slick. But will high school students use it? A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed that 19 percent of American adults have tablet computers. Owners tend to be older and more affluent. Crady suspects that's why colleges haven't been quick to sign on.

"We realize we're early with this," Crady said.

High schoolers might be more likely to access an app on their smartphones, but the college is waiting until the next iPhone iteration to build one.

"It's an experiment," Crady said. "We'll see what happens."

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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