Whether you’re interested in up-to-the-minute updates from your friends or the relationship status of the person sitting next to you in English class, Facebook gives you the wealth of info you need to know what’s going on. That’s just as true for connecting to Jewish life on campus, whether you’re in the middle of your college search or you’ve already decided on a school. Here’s how:
1. Check out the Facebook groups for local Hillels. Most local Hillels have their own Facebook groups, which can serve as a barometer of Jewish life on that campus: the number of participants can indicate how many students are engaged in Jewish life; and the wall posts, link posts, and discussion boards will offer clues about the events and the issues that matter to them. In addition, you’ll be able to identify the most active Jewish students and contact them to learn more about Jewish life on the campus.
2. Join a College Facebook group that shares your values. Many Jewish Facebook groups organize around causes or ideas—some local and campus-specific, such as “Israel Advocates from the Toronto Area” or “University of Minnesota Hillel’s Matzah Ball Soup Initiative,” others more global, such as “1,000,000 Strong for Israel,” “Six Degrees of Jewish Separation,” or the global Reform “KESHER” group. Joining discussions, perusing posted links and wall posts, and reaching out to college students who share your values are all great ways to learn more about the campus experience.
3. Join an alumni group for college feedback. Haven’t spoken with your camp friends in a while? Join an alumni group for your camp, NFTY region, etc.—it’s not only an opportunity to connect with friends, but you’ll have access to the list of universities where group members go. As alumni of the same program, you automatically have a common reference point that will make it easier to connect with someone older who can share information and perspectives. Plus, if a large number of alumni are attending a school you’re interested in, you can connect with them—it’s like having a home away from home even before you leave for college.
4. Review your own list of Facebook friends for campus connections. Your social network is probably extensive. You may have Facebook friends who are in college; and even if you don’t, you’re likely to make connections through other friends. Review your friends list; it will remind you to be in touch with people you may have forgotten about. Odds are, you’ll find useful connections that you didn’t even know existed!
—Daniel Steiner, NFTY North American coordinator