College students have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. With much of college life being so much more than just attending class, completing papers and assignments, students who have had no choice but to telecommute from home find themselves isolated and missing the social interaction that is so vital to them.

But according to a report recently published in Pennsylvania, since the pandemic hit, some college students have used the isolation as a way to get creative. While some have gotten together online to create their own brand of custom sneakers, others have released original music on Spotify, and yet others have gotten out of the house to enjoy some adventure in the form of skydiving, snowboarding, hiking, and more.

They have also turned to social media as a means not only of communicating, but to share their achievements. In particular, they have embraced Instagram as their social media channel of choice creating by their own pages, such as “Since the Penndemic,” a page created by University of Pennsylvania students specifically targeted to spotlight student accomplishments.

The sites also are meant to highlight student passion projects also, such as a one project created by several Wharton students called MKTG:227: Digital Marketing and Electronic Commerce. Says the report, the page has grown much larger and faster than the students ever dreamed, and it serves to illuminate the positive aspects of the project. In some ways, the page can be likened to a digital version of recognition plaques which remain a terrific way to highlight student achievement.

One article recently cherry picked close to 20 college Instagram accounts that are of special interest, including pages created by Colorado State University, Dartmouth College, Liberty University, and the University of Cambridge. It’s important to point out that while the pandemic has forced college and university students to isolate and lockdown, social media sites like Instagram have opened up a whole new world for them.

It’s said that 72 percent of teens use Instagram while close to 70 percent of U.S. young adults between the ages of 18-29 utilize the social platform. Many universities and colleges such as Oregon State University, are also using the popular social media platform to appeal not only to currently enrolled students, but also to prospective high school candidates, plus alumni. If Instagram is such a powerful social media platform, then it only makes sense for both students and the colleges they attend to tap into its popularity. In marketing terms, you should “go where your target audience goes.”

Many schools are said to be posting lively and interesting Instagram content such as stunning photos of campus buildings, live-action shots of basketball, rugby, and footballs games, full color graphics of student and school-sponsored achievement awards, campaigns, and rallies. When it comes to content, the sky is the limit.

One group of 14 students are said to have created a page that highlights their home-cooking skills. They have brewed their own kombucha, and at the same time, shared unique recipes. They also encourage an open dialogue about food. One post in particular illustrated how a trendy vegetarian meal truck has been able adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic by creating new and delicious meals while spotlighting their new online ordering and delivery system.  Another group of students are showcasing their artwork, including portraits, landscapes, and photography.

According to the students, they trying to be as loose as possible with their definition of who is a part of the college and university community and what types of achievements are worth recognizing and sharing. These achievements can be epic, such as the climbing of a mountain or the completion of a first novel, or they can be as simple as a school related GIF that makes other students feel good about themselves.

Students are also taking advantage of school and student Instagram pages to express themselves in short and micro blog posts. Students are asked to respond to statements like, Since the Pandemic I’ve…

The initial response to this call for writers was slow, which caused the page founders to seek out students who might be willing to participate. But after a while, the founders were finding themselves posting many student stories submitted by Instagram enthusiasts from all over the world.

With the vaccines now being widely distributed, it’s a good bet that the pandemic will finally be over relatively soon. Along with it, student life should return to normal. But it’s a good bet that student interaction with Instagram will continue to grow like never before. It’s a great place not only to interact with one another, but to highlight achievements and accomplishments, no matter how significant or humble.

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