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Should You Blog Your Online College Experience?

Feb 24, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

A well-known blog can be both a blessing and a curse for a college student. Writing your own blog chronicling your educational experience could help you make new connections that could lead to a job down the line—or it could get you in trouble with your school, professors and parents. It all depends on how you handle yourself online. Even if you’re careful, however, you could find yourself in hot water.

Here are a few points—both good and bad—that you should consider when deciding whether to start a blog while you’re in college.

Employers can read it

When you go searching for a job, your employers may put your name into search engines to see if they can dig up any dirt on you before they make a hiring decision. Your blog will likely come up in their searches if you use your real name. This could be either good or bad, depending on what you blog about and how you present yourself. In addition, some companies may be
nervous that you’ll blog about them, too—regardless of how
appropriate your online image is.

Parents can read it

Blogger

 

If you’re blogging about your crazy partying lifestyle at college, you may not want your parents to read it—but they will, unless you’re careful to make your blog private and available only to your friends. In general, as a college student it’s sometimes better to keep certain parts of your life private.

Professors can read it

If you’re going to blog about college, be aware of the consequences of badmouthing professors. Denigrating someone online isn’t just damaging to their ego—it can also damage their career prospects and reputation, especially if you use their full name. Even if your professor doesn’t sue you for libel or slander—which is possible—the things you say could affect your grade. Especially if your professor finds out the reason you asked for an extension on your paper wasn’t because of your tonsillitis, but because you spent the week partying.

Your college may take action

Even if your blog is anonymous, your college may not like what you write there. This has happened before—such as when Boston University brought a libel and defamation suit against a blogger who complained about its dismissal of a relative on the faculty. If you complain about your college publicly, it could have legal consequences for you.

You develop connections

Blogging isn’t just a way to get your thoughts out in the open. It’s also a great way to make connections with other professionals. As you blog, you’ll naturally come into contact with other bloggers in your subject area—and one of those people may be of help when you graduate and you’re looking for a job.

You develop work experience

Depending on your career path, blogging can be a great way to gain work experience and beef up your resume. It’s a viable writing sample—and may help if you’re going into journalism, public relations or online marketing, for example. If your career is going to be in social media, web design, or graphic design it can also be a great place to showcase your skills in building a viable online community or possibly designing an attractive and effective site.

You learn

Blogging makes you grow up. If your blog becomes popular you’ll have to moderate comments, deal with readers who question you or call you out, connect with others in your community, and become aware of the wider world. Blogging requires an interaction with the public that can have a maturing effect—and can also be helpful in your career.

Blogging can be either helpful or hurtful to your college career—and sometimes it can be both. Some idealists see blogging as a way of being honest and open about their views and lives in an online community, but there can be consequences to being open—especially when it involves saying negative things about others. Bear in mind that some employers and others might not like what you have to say or that you have an online presence in general. But blogging can also help you—by showcasing your skills and helping you make contacts that could lead to a job.


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