Students participate in
reality TV
Posted March 16, 2007

Kady Bell
Web Editor

Mirroring the America Online promotion “Project Freshmen” by joining forces with Earthbound Media Group and Richard Harrison Bailey/The Agency, the University of La Verne admissions office selected three students to become small-time reality TV stars of a campaign meant to increase enrollment. It will be posted online in April as a recruitment tool on a revamped Web site.

Cameras rolled as Lauren Zagurski, Vance Tate and Seth Shelton were followed around campus the week of Winter Formal, from Feb. 13-16, performing daily activities associated with the “involved” college experience.

Admissions campaigns are typically updated every three years.

This year Ana Liza Zell, associate dean of undergraduate admissions, wished to join the technological frontier, redesigning the main Web site to include an interactive brochure and virtual tour to attract prospective students, drawing them into the lives of students on campus.

“I’m very confident that it will attract students,” Zell said.

“In the age of YouTube and MySpace, students in this generation want something real that represents people like themselves, so I think it’s a good strategy.”

The overall theme of the new campaign, aptly named “Involved,” focuses on student participation; gaining the so-called full college experience, a result that several focus and research groups called “circles of influence,” trademarked by RHB.

In addition to Web site renovations such as a variable database brochure, in which prospective students would describe their potential interests and majors to generate tailored online pamphlets, there will be printed materials such as a view book and postcard following a black, green and orange color scheme highlighting the letters “LV” in “involved.”

The slogan is, “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”

“We had a variety of themes that we were working with but felt that the word ‘involved’ was what students will capture at ULV,” Zell said.

Asked what drew them to the University, students and faculty involved in the research process were overwhelmingly responsive, with most citing common attributes of a close-knit atmosphere, low student-teacher ratio, diversity, strong academic programs and personalized attention as their primary areas of influence.

Extracurricular activities and awareness were also emphasized, deriving the idea behind the campaign.

“Key phrases came out of the exercise; every one of the circles said the way to get the most out of the college experience was to be involved,” Zell said.

Director of Student Life Chip West initially nominated about 10 actively involved students, all of whom were interviewed by admissions representatives, dwindled down to nine video interviews by the media groups and then sorted into the final three students, each representing different aspects of the ULV experience.

Students were asked to be themselves while filming, outlining their typical day-to-day schedules and completing approximately 15-minute versions of a month’s worth of activities in one day, as Zagurski, a junior business major, said.

Camcorders were also handed out, allowing the selected three to capture “confessionals” and important routine activities outside of school.

An Iota Delta sister and professional tutor, Zagurski was filmed during her sorority Rock painting, at work with students, before a test, swing dancing at a Davenport social and during her induction into the Honors Society.

“I thought it was a good experience; a little awkward at first to have a camera in your face but an honor to represent the University,” Zagurski said.

Though shots were not planned, each student maximized his or her filming day, completing or giving a teasing glimpse of miscellaneous activities that stressed involvement.

Selection was based on involvement, leadership qualities, interaction with the media group itself, demonstrating the individual’s ability to befriend the camera and act natural on film, and ability to represent other students on campus.

“I think I have a pretty easygoing personality and am pretty involved on campus,” Shelton said of his own selection.

Zagurski’s schedule spread into two days of footage, allowing her to develop a relationship with the film crew and to conveniently forget the fact that every move was being recorded; a true reality TV-type challenge.

“It’ll give freshmen a chance to see the daily life of a ULV student,” she said.

Shelton, a junior criminology major involved in the Landis Leadership Program and an active swim and water polo team member, lent a more sports-oriented perspective to student life and was filmed during practice, at home, at a frequented restaurant and in and out of class, also capturing his own footage of his sister’s out-of-town wedding.

He said the hectic process amounted to a positive experience.

“It’s a really good idea and will be a huge recruitment tool for people all over the world,” Shelton said.

Tate, a senior movement and sports science major and housing resident assistant involved in football, was filmed in his dorm, working-out in the weight room and touring campus.

Production is in the editing stage, as 14-hour days of filming are being assembled into 10-minute clips of each student, totaling a 30-minute virtual tour composed of footage and still pictures students sent in of their childhoods.           

“It’s been a great journey to see it come together; with the circles and publication rough drafts, we’ve really been able to see why ULV is such a special and amazing place,” Zell said.

Kady Bell can be reached at kbell@ulv.edu.

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