Between the Zoom lectures and Starbucks runs, college students fill their free time by swiping through social media. First there’s Instagram, then Twitter and, hey, don’t forget about Snapchat! In these apps, you can find multiple features: likes, comments, posts, stories and live videos. But behind all the features, there is an art to using them. It takes a pro to master the art behind social media, especially at university. There are photos to take on campus, a lifestyle to portray with your brand and a message to give through communications programs and an active student body. If students want to become social media influencers and seen on the feeds of thousands of users, it takes hard work (and proximity to a big city doesn’t hurt either!). Luckily, there are certain schools where you can learn and grow your accounts.
Keep reading to find out what 10 universities you should attend if you have dreams of becoming an influencer.
10. Flagler College
In the heart of downtown St. Augustine sits Flagler College. While the school is small, its destination proves one of the most gorgeous (and Instagram worthy) in the state of Florida. Across the street from the college, you can find boats floating in the marina. Down the road, an old military fort overlooks the water. St. Augustine also hosts several festivals throughout the year, including their annual Christmas light show, where the entire downtown area is decked out in glowing lights. With the constant buzz of activities, students will never be short on things to do or post.
Flagler College is perfect for influencers looking to flaunt their tan on a boat trip or snap shots of a beach day. It is also an opportunity for the foodies to deck their platforms with photos of delicious foods from downtowns. The pictures of food from Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill or Macaroons from Le Macaron not only will you leave your followers mouth’s watering, but they will be planning their next trip to Florida ASAP.
9. Trinity College
Trinity College, the second oldest college in the state of Connecticut, hosts towering cathedral-like buildings that make up the campus of the liberal arts school. Communications stands as one of the schools most popular majors. They offer a wide variety of classes, from media effect to game application design. The expansive courses provide budding influencers the chance to hone their skills while still in school, and the grounds consist of gothic white-brick buildings that look like they were taken right out of the set of Bridgerton. All you need is a princess dress and a parasol to have the century photo shoot of your dreams.
The Trinity Tripod, the school’s paper, also gives students a chance to practice their writing skills outside of the classroom. Plus, we can’t overlook the irony of the paper being named after the same device that influencers use all the time to film their videos. Trinity also gives their students the opportunity to host social media take overs for the school and they offer social media workshops to help students understand how to brand themselves. Hartford also features the houses of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain, so the historically rich city offers students a chance to nerd out while still creating an envy-worthy feed.
8. Baylor University
The red brick buildings with white trim at Baylor University equal the perfect backdrop for the preppy feed of an aspiring influencer. YouTubers Brooklyn and Bailey already call the college home, and there’s no doubt the school houses plenty of vivacious and entertaining characters. Brooklyn and Bailey posted about the numerous events with their sorority (pre-COVID of course) like the All-University Sing competition. and use their college friends in their videos and Instagram pictures.
“Baylor hosts many events throughout the year such as Pi Phi Howdy, Homecoming, Did Del Oso and more that have made an appearance on my social media pages. Game days and social events are also a frequent feature!” communications graduate student Breann Bates said.
Those interested in collaborating with brands can get their start by working with Her Campus Baylor. Baylor also offers degrees in journalism, public relations and communications, so students have their pick of degree programs in the media realm. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that could definitely include an influencer’s following count!
7. Berry College
If you’re the outdoorsy type that enjoys hiking (or, at least, taking pictures while hiking), then check out Berry College in Georgia. Mount Berry offers multiple hiking destinations where aspiring influencers can snap pictures of on top of the mountains with the greenery of trees flooding the background. The blue skies and lush greens will make you the ultimate nature influencer.
Hannah Ramey, class of 2024, transferred to Berry College this year to study psychology.
“I chose Berry because I was looking for a close community where I could feel at home. Additionally, Berry has a beautiful campus that is filled with amazing people who truly care about helping you succeed,” Ramsey said.
At school, Berry’s communications degree also teaches digital storytelling, public relations, filmmaking and cinema. The background in digital storytelling and filmmaking help influencers expand their platforms into YouTube and the public relations end helps when negotiating brand deals. Though the school boasts a small graduate class, the pictures taken on campus near the main reflective pool will draw viewers to your feed when they see the grand buildings in the background. A picture by the pool and you could have yourself a “Reflection” moment, just like in Mulan.
6. Stanford University
If you’re like me, when you think of Stanford University, you think of the ending scenes in Hannah Montana when Miley shows up at the dorm she and Lily will share for the next four years. That alone should be enough to convince anyone that Stanford is a perfect place for influencers.
The California school gives off beach vibes while still rising to the level of high academics. When students aren’t studying for classes on the weekend, they can drive to the beach for a Pacific coast photo opportunity. Imagine the surfing pictures that could be curated! Pulse Magazine and MINT magazine give students another outlet for their creativity outside of the classroom. The magazine focuses on culture and style, two things it’s good to have a pulse on as an influencer.
Stanford is also located five hours away from LA, home of influencers like Marina Laswick and Zander Hodgson. LA offers picturesque beaches, and let’s not forget that it’s only a 30 minute trip to Rodeo Drive. In the words of Hannah Montana, “You get the best of both worlds!”
5. University of Virginia
Charlottesville serves as another picturesque place to attend college. Students at the University of Virginia see colonial-structured buildings and lawns of greenery every day. The school also offers courses in film studies and media policy and ethics which proves necessary in situations like negotiating brand deals and acting as representatives.
The flexible courses allow students to explore the media through a variety of classes in different educational spheres. UVA also publishes multiple papers and journals that students may take part in like The Cavalier Daily, their student newspaper, in print since 1890. While interviewing people for stories, influencers can also work on cultivating their social media following.
Plus, their Fashion for a Cause club allows influencer students to explore the realms of fashion while still giving back to the community. The club hosts events throughout the year and then donates the proceeds to the UVA Children’s Hospital, Charlottesville Homeless Shelter and other charitable organizations. Not only do the club members look good flaunting their artistic talents, they also do good for the community.
4. Princeton University
You may know it from A Cinderella Story, but Princeton University is more than a place where Chad Michael Murry and Hillary Duff run off to at the end of the movie. Princeton’s Creative Writing and Journalism courses offer students a chance to perfect their story telling techniques and work on nonfiction narratives. Story telling could be key to developing a feed worthy of a mass following.
Not only will Princeton help create content, it will give you the backdrop for the accompanying photos. Princeton stands as one of the oldest colleges in the country, and the buildings are reminiscent of colonial times and Hogwarts. Imagine the magical Harry Potter content you could create!
Princeton also stands out for another reason—their Kardashian Lifestyle Klub. The Klub hosts regular meetings to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians and munch on snacks. They also strive to keep their Instagram followers entertained with funny pictures of the famous family. Who better to emulate than the Kardashians when it comes to influencing?
3. Cornell University
Four hours outside of New York City falls Ithaca, home of Cornell University. The lush, green campus gives major fall vibes once the leaves begin to change. Stone buildings and rural surroundings make any Instagram picture look like it belongs in a travel magazine. Plus, students can always take a train to the city. Polar Express photoshoot anyone? Perfect for that Christmas candid. While Cornell is located in Ithaca, which some may consider “the middle of nowhere,” the students who live there are in love with it.
Ariel Staffin will graduate in 2022, and her favorite spots to take pictures include “the slope” and the touchdown statue.
“Within Ithaca is a wonderful college town with lots of places to enjoy socializing and good food. There is so much natural beauty around us, and the sunsets are to die for,” said Staffin.
Jake Rallo, 20, is also a junior at Cornell. He became an ambassador for La Colombe (a growing coffee company) during his time at Cornell.
“We have an awesome network of diverse creators and influencers on campus,” Rallo said. “The Ithaca area is gorgeous! Between the waterfalls, lakes, gorges and wineries, the campus and area are breathtaking!”
Networking with companies like La Colombe can help influencers gain exposure to other brands as well. Not only could you get paid for the partnership, but if other businesses like your photos, they could extend an offer to work with you as well. The businesses may also post your content on their pages and tag you in the posts. This will bring their viewership to your page and you could gain some followers along the way—it’s a win-win deal for everyone.
Along with Cornell’s impressive communications program, they also educate over 15,000 undergraduate students. That’s enough connections for any influencer to begin growing and perfecting their feed. Cornell also offers students an opportunity to exercise their creativity by writing for Kitsch and Lunatic Magazines. Kitsch Magazine features writing in journalism, fiction, opinion papers and art, while Lunatic Magazine features hilarious satire pieces. Both publications will help you develop a voice as a writer, which could translate to your feed personality. Your followers will come for the pictures, but stay for the captions.
2. Georgetown University
Students who want to turn into influencers and activists should consider attending Georgetown University if they want to grow their feed and media personality while bringing awareness to a certain cause. The university has a rich history in student activism, ranging from environmental and social injustices to LGBTQ rights. This Washington D.C. school rests in the capital, where politics and news are bound to run rampant. The gothic architecture of the buildings also adds extra sophistication to photos!
The university allows students to participate in Bossier Magazine and Her Campus Georgetown. Her Campus Georgetown often partnerships with other makeup and fashion brands, providing contributors with an excellent opportunity to get a foot in the door with collaborations.
Kelly Rohrbach took what she learned at Georgetown and turned it into an influencing career. She graduated from Georgetown in 2012 and has since accumulated 3.9 million followers on Instagram. She attended Georgetown on a Division One Golfing scholarship and earned a degree in theater. Although she is known as a model now, her athletic pursuits in college and vivacious personality come through on her social media.
Students at Georgetown can minor in journalism as well, where they learn critical thinking, ethics and truth standards. The National Mall may not be great for shopping, but the photo opportunities are endless.
1. Columbia University
Columbia University sits in the heart of New York City—every influencer’s dream setting. The campus offers clean-cut and manicured lawns with foliage, making it a perfect backdrop for a fall Instagram post. The bustling streets offer a more chaotic energy. NYC falls on a cultural and artistic pulse and is bound to produce the kind of content that attracts followers. Plus, the museums and industries throughout the city serve as inspiration for budding influencers.
Stasya Generalova is a member of the USA Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team, an ambassador for She’s the First (a nonprofit organization that supports girls through education) and a student at Columbia University.
“Something I have noticed when you go to a prestigious university such as Columbia is that people right away put some respect on your name. So when I tell people I go to Columbia or people see it on my social media, immediately they know that I am in one of the best institutions in the world with very respectable professors and just a name,” said Generalova, who will graduate with her degree in political science in 2023. “All these kids who I am studying aside with are the future, and are going to be the decision makers for how society rules.”
Columbia University has a small undergraduate class of 6,245 students, but students make connections through the prominent faculty and city workers. They can even work on their writing and communications skills in the creative writing classes offered by the university. Apply what you learned at Columbia in RATROCK or HOOT, the school’s two magazines.
RATROCK is the university’s undergraduate art publication. Members of their team learn how to put together the aesthetic pictures followers crave. Hoot Magazine features cohesive photoshoots and themes through the publication, while also teaching members how the get that perfect shot for the gram.
Columbia also boosts some impressive alumni of influencers like Trevor Bell, Cynthia Chen, Selby Drummond and Jamie Grimstad. As a former runner and football player, Trevor Bell was poised to grow his media platform off of fitness and health. Not only do the academics and extracurricular activities align at Columbia University, but who wouldn’t want to recreate Gossip Girl worthy photos?