Rutgers hosts contest for free summer tuition
The University will pitch in to alleviate the burden of tuition for one student this summer.
“The contest is called the 'Keep Calm and Think Summer Instagram Challenge.' Students have to complete various challenges on Instagram to earn prizes like sunglasses, flip flops and a beach towel,” said Jennifer Valera, marketing manager for the summer and winter sessions at Rutgers.
The students who manage to finish all four tasks as part of the contest will be entered into the sweepstakes for free tuition, she said.
“We will choose one lucky winner in May who will receive free Summer Session 2016 tuition for one undergraduate course, up to three credits,” Valera said.
Joseph Coleman, a School of Engineering first-year student, is one of many who are interested in the contest. He is excited about the prizes of the contest, and his opportunity to win it.
“I would definitely enter the contest. Free tuition is nothing to scoff at. And the contest is definitely worth it," Coleman said. "It sounds fun even without winning and the fact that only one student wins doesn't deter me at all. I'm still gonna try.”
It is important to come up with new ways to generate interest in the college and to connect with students, Valera said.
“Each spring and fall, we hold a contest to find a student to feature on the cover of our summer and winter brochures," she said. "Last winter we had a similar Instagram challenge where we gave out hats, gloves and scarves. Students really seemed to love the prizes."
Nicholas Kosko, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the University made a great decision in choosing to expand its reach and use of social media.
“(Students are) constantly posting pictures and sharing and tagging. The way social media works, I think it’s going to generate a lot of interests and connect to a lot of people, especially on our campus, because it’s so vibrant, it’ll really connect to a lot of people,” Kosko said.
Coleman agreed and said the approach will both strengthen the community as a whole, and promote the better aspects of the University.
“I think that this contest (was created) to increase brotherhood and togetherness at the University, to get other people excited about being at Rutgers, while also flooding the students' social media pages with pictures of fun things happening at Rutgers, and therefore perhaps convincing their friends to attend,” Coleman said.
Valera said the faculty wants students to attend the summer sessions and to be conscious of their future.
“It’s very easy to sign up for the contest. We just want to get students thinking about the summer early. We have a great way for students to catch up or get ahead on their degree credits,” Valera said.
And the contest may also help convince students to attend the summer sessions, Kosko said.
“If students are able to gain interest in this, I think a lot of students will participate. It’s a good way to generate interest for summer courses in itself as well," Kosko said. "I know a handful of students are always debating whether to take summer courses over their vacation and get ahead of the game."
But as of Feb. 23, the contest has not generated as much attention as individuals like Valera would have liked.
“So far, we've had about 150 students complete the first challenge. Last winter, we had thousands of students participate," Valera said. "If you don't have Instagram, you can easily just download the app and sign up for it."
The contest may exclude those who do not wish to be a part of the online world, Coleman said.
“I feel a fair amount of students will be unhappy with this competition, specifically those that do not use social media much or prefer to not interact with it. There are a fair amount of people that avoid social media, and they may feel left out,” he said.
Valera and other members of her team thought about that when they created the contest. As a solution, they found a way for other students to enter.
“We give students a second chance to gain an entry to the free tuition drawing. All they have to do is attend one of our upcoming online information sessions. They can sign up on our website,” Valera said.
If students wish to enter the contest, they should maintain a positive outlook on its outcome, Coleman said.
“It would be great to even win one of the smaller prizes. Sure I didn't get tuition but hey, sunglasses are always useful,” he said.
Nicole Osztrogonacz is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in English. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. Find her on Twitter @nikki_osz for more.
Julian Jimenez is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @JulianTheMenez.