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Admissions, career staff engage prospects with Twitterpaloozafest

By John Masson
Oct. 30, 2012

Who would have thought the thorniest questions about law school admissions could be answered in 140 characters or less?

No one, actually.

But what the mystic number of characters allotted to each single Tweet can do, Michigan Law Admissions Dean Sarah Zearfoss reasoned, was let prospective students know there are people here in Ann Arbor who are eager to help the right students live out their law school dreams.

It was with that in mind that a handful of Michigan Law staffers from Admissions and the Office of Career Planning gathered around a conference table in South Hall this week and hosted an hour-long Twitter Q&A session Zearfoss referred to, in her blog, as Twitterpaloozafest.

Modeled after similar events held by the U-M Medical School, the Law School version featured questions from prospective students around the country. They ranged from "Who are some famous U-M alums?" to "What are some of the best things about Ann Arbor?" to "Does having a graduate degree give (applicants) a boost?"

Zearfoss said the response was gratifying, albeit tempered somewhat by the arrival on the East Coast of Hurricane Sandy.

"The prospectives who are Twitter devotees were probably following that news pretty avidly and not thinking about us," she said. (She added that the relatively measured pace of questions was appreciated by staffers, including her, who were not yet up to speed with the medium.)

More fundamentally, though, Zearfoss wondered whether cautious prospective law students might be hesitant to pose questions in a public forum.

"We suspect that people may have been concerned about having their worlds collide," Zearfoss said. "Frankly, I think it's a really completely healthy and understandable impulse, to keep your private jokes segregated from your admissions persona."

So next time Zearfoss orchestrates a Twitterpaloozafest—probably in mid-December—she and her staffers hope to have a mechanism in place for people to post questions without identifying themselves by name.

She thinks there is potential value for applicants in such an event—particularly now that the Twitter-novices in Admissions are getting more comfortable in that forum.

"We're definitely going to want to do it again."

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