Ohio School Uses The Force to Attract Admits

May 19, 2011

It's tough living in somebody's shadow. Columbus, Ohio's Capital University deals with that issue every day; they have to compete with what's famously known as THE Ohio State University, its mega-popular cross-town rival. To compensate, Capital has come up with some clever ways of engaging its student body, including an innovative use of social media.

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By Eric Garneau

Capital University is the oldest institution of higher learning in central Ohio. It has a student population of over 3,500 and offers a number of degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Unfortunately, it also tends to be overlooked in favor of Ohio State University, which is almost 15 times larger and has an athletic program that's famous nationwide. But has Ohio State University's president ever done battle with a lightsaber?

That event, along with many other stunts, was part of a Capital University plan to engage this year's class of incoming freshmen via social media. Starting in March, the University began to post a series of viral videos to their website and YouTube that starred their mascot, Cappie the Crusader. Cappie's antics were wholly dependent on the suggestions of incoming students, who could propose activities for Cappie while looking up where to send their enrollment deposit.

star wars the force

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Throughout the 19-video series entitled 'Mascot Mayhem,' Cappie found himself in a number of interesting situations, from the somewhat cruel (March 9's 'Snowball Attack') to the weirdly unsettling (April 5's 'Chicken Dance') to the legitimately impressive (April 7's 'Unicycle'). Cappie's contributors didn't shy away from pop culture suggestions, either. March 23's installment saw Cappie doing his best G-T-L (that's gym-tan-laundry) routine from Jersey Shore, while in April 8's 'Jedi Challenge' Cappie met the school's president on their quad for a Phantom Menace-style lightsaber duel.

One might wonder what any of this has to do with higher education, but the technophiles among us may see Capital University's tactics as savvy, especially in an age when social media occupies so much of our time. Kevin Sayers, the school's vice president for planning and strategy, noted that the videos provide 'a way of connecting (students) to the campus before they get here.' If the students feel like part of a larger community before they even send in their deposit checks, that might ease their transition to on-campus living come fall. It might even make them more excited to participate in campus activities and become an active, creative part of the community that gave them wacky videos to watch a few months before.

And really, why shouldn't students be enthusiastic about coming to Capital? What other school has faculty proficient in the ways of the Force?

Some young college students may not be having so much fun; recent reports show a record level of stress amongst college freshmen.

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