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And . . . action: Capturing college life in a video

By Karen Augenstein, For The Miami Student

While Miami's marketing videos portray a quiet, quaint and brick-laden college town to the public, student-made videos paint an entirely different picture.

Whether intentional or not, both have the power to recruit, or deter, the next generation of students.

Capturing the essence of college life is difficult, since there are so many elements associated with four years. For Kelly Bennett, who runs Miami's social media program and created the "Love & Honor" video, the key is not just to focus on one side of college, but the many opportunities Miami has to offer.

"A big aspect of the videos is to show the well-rounded college experience," Bennett said. "You get to study abroad, do research projects and project all the people and moments that make Miami what it is. Some schools can showcase a few of their strengths, but Miami has it all."

When prospective students come to visit Miami, many see the "Love & Honor" video, which shows a wide array of experiences on campus, from academics, a cappella, sports, nightlife, traveling abroad and campus living.

The range of material allows the "Love & Honor" video to target different students by addressing a subject they may be interested in. The "Love & Honor" video has 62,000 views on YouTube and is shown to many prospective students at the beginning of their tour at Miami.

"I think the videos we produced are very well received, in particular the 'Love & Honor' video. I have people today who are still commenting on it," Bennett said.

For first-year Margot Austin, the "Love & Honor" video was a factor in her decision to come to Miami. She feels that the video helps portray what life in Oxford is like, both academically and socially.

"I got the chills seeing the 'Love & Honor' video on my tour here. My dad even cried at orientation because he thought it was such a good message," Austin said. "You really get a the sense of community with the videos and it without a doubt attracts prospective students."

But contrary to the message behind videos Miami produces to promote the college, there are several videos circulating YouTube that show only the party side of Miami.

One such video, "Miami University Green Beer Day 2015- Fratican," highlights excessive binge drinking. Other videos include the "lookout" video showing a comical house break-in, and a glimpse into the Beta Block Party, an annual off-campus party.

Many of these showcase Miami's nightlife and party school reputation. Bennett said the major problem with these kinds of videos is that they only show one side of Miami.

"They are seeing a very skewed version of what a college experience is," she said. "It shows a portion of one side of Miami. We like to show everything Miami has to offer, not just one side of the experience."

Students are impacted by what they see and hear about a college, which can influence how they perceive a school and what they feel the college experience is like.

First-year Emma Vogelmeier is a media and culture major, and she said she thinks the videos affect a person based on how old they are and how long they have been involved in the college search experience.

"When I was a sophomore, and they showed the 'Love & Honor' video, it had a lot more influence on me than when I was a senior and I had seen a lot of schools, so I was a little more jaded," Vogelmeier said. "It definitely has a lot to do with how old you are when you see it."

For prospective students who seek out college partying videos, Vogelmeier says these expectations are misguided, as college isn't really like that.

"Drinking videos send a negative feeling to kids who do not want to party often in college, or kids see it as a party school, which isn't an accurate representation of what it will be like all the time or what life will be like after school," Vogelmeier said.

Vogelmeier said it would be beneficial for high school students to see promotional videos created by current college students on their experiences at Miami.

"I think more students need to make a YouTube-esque approach and show what their actual life is like," Vogelmeier said. "I would also show the stuff I get to do at MAFIA or Redhawk Records or my Radio show, where I get to have a lot of fun, to show what Miami offers for me individually."

Bennett and her team are currently working on creating a promotional video made from footage Miami University students send in of their own experiences.

"All the footage in that video can be submitted by students and professors, so it will be all real experiences made by students so it's not the school saying it's great but the students and faculty who are saying what makes Miami special," Bennett said.