Facebook originally started as a service for college students, but in 2006, it was opened to anybody with a valid e-mail address. The Nontraditional Student Center at Weber State University has found a way to take Facebook back to its roots and utilize this social media site for students.
The Weber State Nontrad Students group on Facebook is a resource that WSU students can use whenever they have Internet access. Since the page is an open group, “anyone can see the group, who’s in it, and what members post,” according to Facebook. Group members can comment on the page, upload photos and create events.
Students have used the group page to form study groups, give notifications for study groups, events and classes, look for roommates, buy and sell textbooks, and seek advice from other students.
Tashina Barber, one of the group members, posted this question: “I’ve lived here in the area for a month now, where is a good place to get some authentic Mexican food? A place with great green chile?”
Other students have asked for tips with Chi Tester, parking, and how to balance school and parenting.
Stephanie Saffell-Wilkinson, a nontraditional WSU student, said in a Facebook message that she uses the page to get help picking classes and professors.
“It’s nice to get feedback from other people my age and or with maybe similar life issues,” she wrote.
Jayrod Garrett, a peer adviser in the Nontraditional Student Center and the managing editor of “Epiphany,” said the Facebook group isn’t only helpful for students.
“For me, it’s been mostly useful in a professional way,” he said.
Garrett said he can direct students to other students as useful resources, based on what they’ve posted about on the page. He said he encourages all students at WSU to join the group and be involved, and to “keep it useful” by not abusing the page.
Brenda Smith, a sophomore studying health promotions, is also a peer adviser with the Nontraditional Student Center and the moderator for the Weber State Nontrad Students group page.
“Kind of what I try to do is keep people updated on workshops and opportunities through the Nontrad Center,” Smith said.
Smith said the staff members started the Facebook group because they knew many students were already on Facebook and that it could be used as another way to keep students informed. She said students sometimes only take online classes, so this online group can be another avenue of support for them.
Smith said the group “seems to be very helpful for students.”
Morgan Syme, a sophomore studying elementary education, said that, although she doesn’t have a Facebook account, she does use her husband’s. She said she wasn’t familiar with the Nontraditional Student Center or its Facebook group, but that she could see how it’d be useful to find out how to get more involved on campus.
“We’re not that involved because we don’t ever see what’s going on with anything,” Syme said.
Group members can choose to receive notifications via Facebook and e-mail for when other group members have commented on the page or activities have been posted. The Nontraditional Student Center discourages students from using the page as a venue for advertising their businesses.
Group members can also use the page as a way to contact the Nontraditional Student Center staff.
“If they have suggestions on improvements that we can do in the center, you know, they can always enter it on there and we can get that feedback,” Smith said.