4 Reasons Why College Students Aren’t Blogging—Even Though They Should Be

Last week, Ryan Paugh of Employee Evolution gave me the idea to write a post about why more college students aren’t blogging. Immediately, I accepted the challenge and started pounding out a post. Seven-hundred words later, I realized my post had turned into a rant. While it felt great to vent about my lack of peers in the blogosphere, I wasn’t sure the post would actually benefit anyone, so I saved it in my files but never posted in on my blog.

fireNow that some time has passed, I find myself still thinking about the issue, but with a little less… fiery anger, if you will.

So why aren’t more college students blogging? I can only think of two people my age who actively blog, and one of them I made do it because he is the Student Body President and I’m the Director of Marketing and Public Affairs, which means I can force him to try new marketing programs whenever I want.

The buzz in the industry is that blogging catches attention, enhances your writing skills, builds an online social network, and, ahem,
affects the hiring process.

But that doesn’t seem to be enough incentive, so what keeps students from blogging? I’ve made some assumptions, but please, feel free to add to it!

  1. Lack of time – College students have hectic schedules, and after long days of classes, studying, and interning, the last thing they want to do is spend time blogging. This is my advice: posts don’t have to be long! Some of the best are less than 250 words, in fact, readers’ attention spans are short, so no need to write lengthy essays! Also, you can blog as much or as little as you want—it’s about quality, not quantity.
  2. Lack of ideas – Many of my peers say they don’t know what to write about. I suggest finding someone’s blogroll and following it for a while. Interact with the bloggers—leave comments and participate in the various dialogues. This will not only give you ideas, it will also get you active in the community. This can help in the “lack of time” category, too (two birds with one stone, anyone?). Kudos to my classmate Tory for being a pro at this. Even though she doesn’t blog right now, she is involved in the blogosphere, which keeps her up-to-date on industry trends and earns her some much-deserved recognition.
  3. Lack of Knowledge About Blogging – This one kills me. College students could potentially have some of the most fascinating blogs as they are constantly presented with new ideas in their classes, activities, and social lives, but they don’t blog about it because they “aren’t really sure how.” WordPress and Blogger are fool proof, so log in and start writing!
  4. Apathy – The last reason is that many students just don’t care. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about this, but I hope as more students are rewarded with jobs, internships, and scholarships they will find some value in this medium.

It’s upsetting that more of my friends and classmates don’t blog, and not just because I’d like a larger readership (ha), but because I know the importance of social media. As Chris Clarke said, blogging no longer makes you exceptional—it’s expected.

Well, that’s my take, but I’m interested in what you all think.

34 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why College Students Aren’t Blogging—Even Though They Should Be

  1. Not that you lack ideas entirely, but you’ve even said you don’t know what topic you’d ever write about, which is a valid concern!

  2. I don’t buy the busy line at all. Joe Thornley is busy, and he blogs. Mark Cuban runs a basketball team and blogs. Richard Edelman runs a multinational PR company and blogs. Rosie O’Donnell does … whatever she does… and blogs. I have a job, I run a house concert series, I have friends, I cycle 9 months of the year, I have volunteer activities — I’m busy, and I blog.

  3. I think there is also a strong fear of public publishing — saying something “dumb” and being called out for it for all the world to see. My students often worry about just *commenting* on a PR pro’s blog!

  4. Some people might not blog out of a lack of confidence. They may not be confident that they have anything meaningful to say. That would be wrong. Everyone has something meaningful to say. Say it!

  5. @Chris – Thank you!

    @Bob – I don’t buy it either, trust me, but it’s the excuse I hear the most. Maybe after they read your comment they’ll realize how invalid that excuse really is!

    @Karen and Les – I didn’t think about this, but you’re right. I know I suffer from that lack of confidence every now and then when I want to post on someone’s blog. Blogging has forced me to be confident in my abilities as a communicator so that I can interact on professionals’ blogs, which is another reason I encourage my peers to join the community.

    Thanks everyone for the great comments!

  6. I think Karen and Les have a bit of a point here.

    But a question or a tentative thought is as much of a blog post as a definitive statement. If you’re a student and you’re blogging, why not ask questions? Put forth a theory. Sure, it may be wrong. Others may chime in and contradict your thoughts.

    But when you start the conversation, you can participate in it. Look at this post — “Why aren’t students blogging?” You put out some questions, you made some hypotheses, and people started responding. Beautiful!

    And in a world where I can be one of Canada’s Best Business Blogs (Okay, 6th out of 7 in the final round, but at least I beat Michael O’Connor Clarke), students should realize that I’ve already said most of the dumb things.😉

  7. Bob,

    I agree! The reason I started this blog was because I had countless questions that I knew wouldn’t get answered in a textbook. As I started posting and reading others blogs, I started getting answers.

    When I first started blogging, I was hesitant to put out my theories, but once I did– that’s what drives traffic, and more than traffic, it leads to a loyal readership. Students and young professionals have interesting perspectives that differ from seasoned pros, and that’s what makes for a dynamic, engaging, and informative community.

    And kudos for your Best Business Blog recognition! You deserve it!

  8. Hi Meg,

    I wish I would’ve caught this thread earlier so I could be the first to comment. But better late than never right?

    One story I always share with people is the one where I openly dismissed the art of blogging back in my college days. You see, I actually had a great professor who urged me to start a blog every day for an entire semester. But alas, I could care less (apathy).

    I was too busy enjoying my social life, dealing with other classes and figuring out what in the world I really wanted to do with my life.

    Of course, I’m eating my words now, as blogging is the key factor in the big life change I made during the past 6 months. How ironic…

    Besides apathy, which most likely was my key contributor to lack of blogging in college, I think the lack of ideas concept plays a big part, and also a lack of passion.

    You see, most college student have no idea what they want to do with their lives. So if you’re starting a career-based blog, where do you even start? I would’ve had a real hard time considering the fact that college me could have never predicted where I am now.

    Good post. I’m really glad you wrote it.

  9. @Ryan – Great point about career-related blogs, but I wish college students would write about anything– sports, social lives, part-time jobs… just something to get more people writing and communicating. That’s just me, though.

    @Lee – Thanks for pointing out my (lack of) monetary worth. At least you’re reading, so I can’t complain.

  10. I’d tried maintaining a blog in the past, but lost steam after a few posts and gave up entirely over time. I realized I chose the wrong topic.

    I realized that by putting two of my interests together (PR and video games), I can easily sit down for 10 minutes and come up with a topic for a post.

  11. I teach university students in Paris, France. As part of my classes, they are required to blog. The big reason they thought it wasn`t useful at the beginning? They thought blogging was about sharing personal details of their lives – which they assumed would be boring or trivial to others (and too much of an exposure to themselves). At the end of our 6 week trial, many are convinced blogging is a good thing, may help them find a job, and; by being forced to write their thoughts (often in a foreign language no less) it helped them think through ideas better. They were all surprised, however, at the time commitment required by blogging. Between classes, jobs and internships, they have difficulty finding time – especially if they don`t have internet access at home.

    It is not that they are lazy – a disturbing undertone I sense in some of the comments above.

    If they can see a good reason to do it, they will make the time. Also, they are often already doing other social media type things – particularly on social networks. My job has been to help them think about professional uses of these tools.

  12. @Rick – I checked out your blog and it’s very interesting! I think you bring up another valid point– it’s difficult to think of a topic that will sustain both you and the readers’ attention for a substantial period of time.

    @Elizabeth – You touched on the point I was trying to make. I don’t think enough students realize the professional advantages blogging can give them, and it’s great that you are helping them see the benefits of this medium. Even though we have professors at USF who strongly advocate blogging, I am the only one in my sequence doing so. This made me wonder why more students weren’t “cashing in” on the advice of our professors as well as listening to the buzz of the industry, which is that social media is growing more important.

    I agree with you and I don’t think the majority of students are lazy at all– I think it’s a combination of being unsure about the process as a whole and feeling as though they don’t have enough time to maintain a well-written, regularly updated blog.

    Of course, this is based on my experience with students at my own university, where there is not a class that requires them to launch their own blog. It’s great to see the perspective of other students and professors from around the world on this topic!

    Take care!

  13. You are all very welcome to join discussions and information sharing on the topic of Teaching Social Media at the New PR Wiki (www.thenewpr.com). Email me if you would like the password to contribute.

    BTW: I didn’t mean to sound so grumpy yesterday – it was really a day from hell. Not the least issue: I showed up to class bright and early only to discover it was actually in the afternoon! Sigh.

  14. Pingback: » Who says college students don’t blog? amy :: lynn

  15. Amy Lynn,

    I tried commenting on your blog, but for some reason WordPress doesn’t believe my username exists.

    Anyway, at first glance I thought you said I was ranting in my post, but I’m glad to see you changed “rants” to “talks” because I did not want to rant by any means! I was hoping to give students ways to overcome the excuses they might have made for themselves. This post was meant as a helpful resource that would help produce an insightful dialogue, which I believe it has done!

    I am happy to see that you have started blogging, and I look forward to reading your posts!

    Take care,
    Meg

  16. Meg – yes, sorry for that! I believe the word “rant” was used somewhere in reference to your post, and the word just got stuck in my head. I give you a lot of credit for calling out our fellow students for their lack of effort. I know I haven’t been doing this long, but I think it’s the start of something great.

    We can all learn from each other far more on blogs, websites, forums, etc. than we can in the classroom. I don’t know about you, but not too many people talk in my classes and only the same few people have anything good to say. I know a lot of people have some educated thoughts and they should voice them on blogs.

    Thanks for reading!

  17. Hi Meg! I’m a soon-to-be PR grad as well and recently came across your blog. I’ve never been too familiar with the blogging world, just that it’s growing almost exponentially. This post was the final straw that made me break down and start one (I admit I also stole your idea of the online portfolio, too).

    Now that I’ve read all your posts and a myriad of others, most of which you recommended, I have written my first post.

    I know you are one crazy-busy woman, but if you wouldn’t mind, I would sincerely appreciate if you could please glance at my blog and about page and give me some constructive feedback.

    Can’t thank you enough!!

    Blessings,
    ~Cheryl

    http://rawrelations.wordpress.com/
    http://www.freewebs.com/cherylbak/

  18. Pingback: Tendencias Digitales - el blog » Blog Archive » El “PR blogging”

  19. After coming across your blog, I have gained more insight into the world of blogging among PR students. As a beginner to my education in this field it helps a lot to hear comments that will aid me through my studies! It has encouraged me to manage my time with school, work, etc and still engage myself into the world of blogging. Reading the opinions about PR students and blogging has increased my desire to become a better PR writer.
    Thanks a lot!
    Sarah

  20. Sarah,

    I am so happy that my blog has helped you! That was my whole goal with this post. If you need any insight or help, feel free to ask me!

    Good luck with everything you do. Your proactive nature will surely take you far in your PR education and career.

    Meg

  21. I’m a sophomore and I have started a blog about PR for the very purpose of improving my writing skills, networking, and having one to show to potential employers.

    When it comes to improving myself professionally, I am very motivated. I am involved in PRSSA and also our chapter’s student-run PR firm. I am also on several PRSSA committees. Meanwhile, I am taking 18 credit hours and working. Now, I blog too. Oh yeah…and trying to have a life occasionally.

    But I have seen a lot of my peers that think that their degree will get them a job. They don’t care to get involved and learn more. Its a major lack of passion for the field they are going into.

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  23. Pingback: What College Students Can’t Get From Blogging | SheGeeks

  24. Hi, nice article. Your call to blog (and its potential benefits) is something I have been reading more about recently, and my interest has definetly been piqued, to the point where I have started writing down ideas – however, I am hesitant about the potential pitfalls. I am not in PR, I am a final year computing science student, and I have been wondering, for a start, whether or not those in the computing business, especially those at the more traditional business end of the market, would like the idea of hiring someone who blogs? I know the snazzy web 2.0 twitterers in the IT business would probably, or at least possibly like the idea, as it shows you are passionate about your field; but might not many other companies find the idea of someone who is used to broadcasting what they think and know unsettling, given the tendency for secrecy in business?

    I am also scared I might say something I would later regret, or possibly something which people might infer to mean something which was not intended. Do blogs allow you to delete your posts?🙂 Even so, it might get cached by search engines and just stick around… I don’t know, is there any encouragement you could offer?

    Cheers

  25. Hi Meg,

    I got your link from Corvida’s post and thought I’d drop by and share my 2cents.

    I got an internship (in fact a couple of internship offers) via blogging. There’s definitely value here. I think time may be an issue, but the time spent goes down rather quickly. I used to spend maybe 45 mins to an hour blogging, but now can punch out a fairly length post in 20 minutes because I write everyday and it helps. Not to mention this has helped with my report writing in school too.

    Lack of ideas, well, I think it’s hard to have a lack of ideas if you’re writing about something you’re passionate about.

    I can definitely identify with lack of knowledge though. I just migrated my wordpress blog to a self-hosted blog and it was a nightmare. But nothing that can’t be overcome with some determination!

    Loving the blog, consider me subscribed =)

  26. Pingback: What College Students Can’t Get From Blogging : Brazen Careerist

  27. Pingback: The Millennial Curse: Can Blogging Break It? : Brazen Careerist

  28. Pingback: A Reflection: How Blogging Affected My Life « PR Interactive

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