College Yearbooks: Are They Still Around?

Learn how college yearbook staffs try to compete with huge online databases such as Facebook.

Photo: Thinkstock

With the advent of Facebook, college yearbooks have been on a precipitous decline, but they do still exist. While yearbooks provide a nice memento of college and a way to keep in touch with the people you meet, they face numerous challenges in the age of the Internet.

College Yearbooks and the Internet

All your friends’ pictures in one easy place for a relatively cheap price. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, thanks to the Internet, that service is already readily available, and free. In 2008, the The University of Texas at Austin reported that fewer than 60 of the 50,000-strong student population even showed up to take a photo for the college yearbook ‘’The Cactus’’. Statistics such as this have led other schools, like Purdue and Mississippi State, to discontinue their annual student yearbooks.

If you are interested in being a part of the solution to help flagging yearbook operations on your campus, talk to faculty in the journalism department or check your school’s list of clubs.

Further hampering the process of getting a yearbook on campus is lack of awareness. Schools may have rules prohibiting mass emails to students. This means that those running the yearbook have to put a great deal of energy and possibly money into advertising and getting the word out to the entire student body about picture times, purchasing deadlines and information about where to pick up the yearbook.

Solutions to the College Yearbook Problem

People from schools across the country have come together to try to find solutions to the problem of the failing college yearbook. At the College Media Advisers Conference, faculty, staff and students have been sharing ideas. Some schools are offering a supplementary DVD or an interactive website students can access with the yearbook. Others are focusing on ways to improve participation, such as accepting user-submitted Facebook photos instead of requiring students to come into a studio to take a picture.

Facebook Before Facebook

Every incoming student at Colgate University is given an “Incunabulum,” a list of all incoming freshmen, their birthdays, and where they are from. This was a very useful list for students who want to meet other freshmen. Another advantage was that it didn’t require any participation from students. Other schools, like Harvard University, have similar programs.

How to Get Involved in Your College Yearbook

The college yearbook is run by students and is easy to become a part of. It is typically open to all students as a journalism class. If you are interested in being a part of the solution to help flagging yearbook operations on your campus, talk to faculty in the journalism department or check your school’s list of clubs.

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