How We Can Solve the Student Loan Debt Crisis

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In the United States, it costs far more to educate a college student than in countries such as Great Britain, France,

Germany, and Japan.1 The Federal Reserve Bank of New York revealed student loan debt ($1.19 trillion) surpasses auto loan debt ($968 billion) and credit card debt ($684 billion) in its May 2015 quarterly report on household debt and credit. If car prices had risen as fast as college tuition prices over the past three decades, the average cost of a new car would be more than $80,000.2 The average 2015 college graduate owes more than $35,000 in student loans and takes about 17 years to pay it off.

As a recent graduate of a Florida university, I’m particularly interested in this issue and recently spoke with Dr. Robert Kelchen, assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.

“Our main focus should be on the people for whom student debt is actually a very big issue,” said Dr. Kelchen. “Student loan debt mostly affects the students who have fairly small loans and left college with debt, such as from a community college or public university, and are struggling in a low-paying job, or who left college with debt and no degree.”

Currently, millennials make up about 40 percent of unemployed Americans. In relation to individuals in this age group a decade ago, when compared to the nation’s median income, millennials are now earning less.4 This has posed a frustrating challenge that has, in large part, forced many millennials to delay life decisions such as marriage, home buying, and starting a family. Higher college tuition and student loan debt make social mobility and financial security even more cumbersome for our young graduates.

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How using a video to promote an event set a record social media engagement rate

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Each September, the organization where I work hosts a celebration of Constitution Day. The goal is to increase civic engagement awareness in college students across the state of Florida. Last month we tried something new. We went on the local college campus and filmed a video for promotion of our Constitution Day events. The results were astounding and very encouraging.

In the past, we’ve hosted one event with roughly 75 attendees. This year, we hosted four events, so naturally attendance was expected to be a little higher. However, this year we increased our event attendance by 233%, with 10% of one college’s population turning out at the event. Our video promotion was part of that success.

To give you an idea of the ripple effect this marketing tool provided, here are some little tidbits:

  1. Our Facebook page likes increased by 2% over 13 days. The average growth rate of a Facebook page is about 0.64% per week.
  2. During our video campaign, our Facebook organic reach increased from an average of about 500 views a day to about 4,000 views a day, setting our record engagement and organic reach for the year.
  3. Reached 70,148 individuals.
  4. A high school teacher saw the video on Facebook and made our Constitution Day event an extra credit opportunity for his students.
  5. Commenters on social media asked us to host a Constitution Day event on their campuses next year, and asked for a live-streaming or recording of the events.

Takeaways:

  • Always upload a video directly into a Facebook post. You can, of course, add your video on YouTube and Vimeo for online audiences to find, but just simply loading a YouTube link to share on Facebook won’t cut it. Facebook’s algorithm is such that it’s favoring direct video uploads and pushing that out to your audiences. A video we shared back in February reached 3,000 individuals with only a YouTube link Facebook upload compared to this campaign’s Facebook direct upload reaching more than 70,000. And definitely use the ad targeting feature so you can tell those advertising dollars where to go!
  • If you’re on a tight budget, a little bit of paid promotion on Facebook goes a lot farther than other advertising methods. Over 13 days, we spent $200 for paid promotion of our video post. A little more than 11,000 of our views were organic (or not paid views from our advertising dollars). If I were to spend that same amount on a promoted tweet, I’d only receive about 160 views. Therefore, we passed up putting our limited budget toward any Twitter campaigns and instead spent our budget all on Facebook promotions.
  • Do a little research and tap into your Twitter audience. Something I’ve been doing lately for our past couple of smaller campaigns has been to research the target audiences of our event or publication and then find active organizations or individuals on Twitter fitting that profile. For this Constitution Day event campaign, I looked for organizations on campus and news outlets/events in the area with active Twitter accounts who would be interested our event. For the most part, these organizations would either retweet or share our tweet with their audiences, connecting us to individuals who then attended our event and interacted with our brand.

Do college students know the importance of the U.S. Constitution?

(VIDEO) Do college students know the importance of the U.S. Constitution?

I filmed and edited this video while Digital Strategist at The James Madison Institute. I worked on the communications team in creating the script and designing the project to advertise The James Madison Institute’s Constitution Day events on Florida college campuses. View the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03He5u9jHHc.

Additionally, I made the social media campaign and flyers to promote the Constitution Day events. The video received more than 69,000 impressions in one week.

Business Cards for floridaverve.org

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The floridaverve.org blog is a Florida cultural and heritage blog site as part of The James Madison Institute. As the Digital Strategist for JMI, I designed these business card-sized publicity materials to easily share what “The Verve” is with others who are interested in either contributing or reading its contents. The back and front of the card can be viewed here.

2015 Legislative Review

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While working as the Digital Strategist for The James Madison Institute, I designed and edited copy for this published six-page document that wrapped up the 2015 Florida legislative session and shared how session fit with JMI’s legislative priorities and how JMI effected change. The full publication can be viewed here.

Bradford teen parents, students offered parenting course

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As part of my senior journalism program Capstone course, I investigated and reported on education topics in Bradford County, Florida. In my research I came across a teen parenting program where Bradford County educators may have discovered a way to counteract the high dropout rate of teen parents in the area. The full video and supplemental written story published on the WUFT-FM website can be found here.