Admitted Chinese Graduate Students Get Answers via Sina Weibo

By Laura Brinn
Their questions were typical of incoming graduate students: What are the best housing options on- and off-campus? Are tuition payment plans available? How successful have graduates been in pursuing careers in New York and Washington D.C.? And of course, are graduate students able to get tickets to Duke basketball games?

What made the group of admitted graduate students posing the questions different is that they were using Weibo, a popular Chinese social media channel, to connect with current graduate students and Duke staff in real time to learn more about graduate school and campus life at Duke.

The session Tuesday morning was hosted by the Graduate School’s Admissions Office, in collaboration with Duke’s International House and Public Affairs and Government Relations team, the Career Center and the Duke Chinese Student and Scholars Association.

Nearly 40 percent of the Chinese applicants who have received admissions offers from the Graduate School signed on to join the one-hour chat session, during which seven students and five staff members scrambled to keep up with the constant influx of questions and comments. While some of the participants have already accepted their offers of admission to Duke, others are still weighing their decisions, and finances, housing and career prospects are among the many factors they must consider.

Representatives from the Pratt School of Engineering’s graduate programs, as well as the computer science department, also attended the session to provide specific answers to questions about their programs, which attract large numbers of applicants from China.

“This is a great way for us to answer common questions in real-time, in a conversation-like forum,” said Liz Hutton, associate dean for graduate admissions. “The Graduate School has experienced tremendous growth in applications from Chinese students in recent years, and connecting like this helps us overcome time-zone and connection challenges and provide instant access to current students, program staff and experts on campus life.”

This is the second year the Graduate School has used Weibo to connect with admitted students. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions will host a chat session for admitted students from China this Friday on RenRen, another Chinese social media channel.

Duke maintains official university accounts on three Chinese social media channels: Weibo, RenRen and Youku. If you are interested in using these channels to connect with prospective students or other groups in China, contact Laura Brinn, executive director of global communications, or Cara Rousseau, social media manager.

This post originally appeared on Duke’s global website.

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