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Social networking websites are eliminating the once popular appeal of college yearbooks reports the AP. Though it is difficult to assess just what this change means – if anything – to students and professors in terms of their relationships, the demise of the college yearbook underscores the declining presence of print publications in our lives.
The Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s executive director, Edmund Sullivan, says that students have been steadily losing interest in yearbooks for years, thanks – not surprisingly – to sites like Facebook and Myspace. “The Internet has blown down the four walls of a campus in a traditional sense. And it has blown off the covers on the yearbook,” he said.
In fact, the University of Virginia is forgoing its yearbook – for the first time since 1887. Publishers explained that there just isn’t enough money or appreciation in an age where students can instantaneously publish photos online for free.
High school yearbooks, interestingly, aren’t experiencing the same level of flagging popularity. “At a high school, you’re required to be within the four walls of an institution, and in college you’re not,” said Vicky Wolfe, who served as “Corks and Curls” editor in 1994. The experience shared by high school students is much different that those shared by college students.
This point, however, may have an important branding lesson in it for both print and online publications. After all, high school students are just as obsessed with technology – if not more so – than college students. So what is it about the high school experience that makes people more prone to wanting an official, traditional yearbook? And how can publishing and tech brands capitalize on this phenomenon?
But those brands should act fast if they want to appeal to college students. Purdue, Old Dominion, and Mississippi State have also scrapped their yearbooks in favor of social networking and picture sharing sites. But not all hope is lost. Mary Jane, a junior at Virginia Wesleyan College, explains: “I grew up with yearbooks, and it was a big part of my childhood. Who’s to say that Facebook is going to be around in 20 years?” Yeah, right.