APU introduces Merit Pages

cougarstar.jpgUndergraduate students were notified via email last month of University Relations’ new involvement with meritpages.com, which has the goal to display undergraduate student achievement online for loved ones and potential employers to see.

“We would like to see it become a hub of information for students to promote their own achievements and for the university to recognize them,” Assistant Director of Public Relations Rachel White said.

White’s hope is to showcase student accomplishments through this website. Each undergraduate student now has a personalized page on the Merit website with a list of achievements, activities and jobs.

Besides the automatic official university achievement postings from athletics, study abroad, the Dean’s List and graduation, students are able to update their own information such as work experience, internships and missions work. Students can also upload profile pictures and share links to their pages on Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s a great way to build your college story,” White said.

University Relations compiles student information with the goal of giving future employers easy access to the successes students have in their time here, according to White.

White explained that 75 percent of employers now look online for information about an applicant before hiring them. Through Merit, one of the first pieces of information that will appear in a search on a student will be their university accomplishments.

Students need to “claim” their pages and create a password or sign in with Facebook in order to update their information. Before that, however, most pages simply automatically list the press releases sent to hometowns which announce that a specific student made the Dean’s List that semester or graduated from university that year.

The Athletics Department is in the beginning stages of partnering with University Relations to help publicize the records and accomplishments of student athletes.

Sports Information Director Joe Reinsch believes Merit is an effective way to “make contacts and get regular updates” to hometowns.

“Every hometown is proud of what their students are accomplishing out in the world,” Reinsch said.

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Students are able to complete their Merit profiles by going to apu.meritpages.com and changing their personal profile to include activities and job information.

The main objective of Merit is to share personal achievements online for others to see, but this is not a positive for all students.

“It could be harmful for people who want information kept private,” senior biochemistry major Lewis Rogers said. “What other information [is APU] publishing without [students’] control?”

Participation is not mandatory. Although pages have automatically been created for every student, uninterested students can opt-out on the website or through University Relations. The jobs and activities section is not automatically filled. Each student has the option to fill out those sections on their own time or not.

Junior social work major Carissa Bowen said although she was originally unsure of Merit’s content and purpose, she has high hopes for the program.

“It could be positive as a networking type [of program] where it is connecting [students to] jobs,” Bowen said.

In order for Merit to be used to its full potential, the major challenge is “educating everyone involved,” according to Reinsch.

Senior business management major Omar Rivera created and updated his Merit page as soon as he found out about it via email. His page currently has a profile picture, cover photo, biography, one listed activity (interpreter at Mexico Outreach) and five listed jobs.

“I was like, oh, I might as well give it a try,” he said.

Rivera also has a LinkedIn account, which he said is “way more in-depth” than Merit pages.

As students get used to their new Merit pages, White hopes they will take advantage of the site and actively post important information. According to White, all students will be informed of Merit and issued a page from this point forward.

“[Students] will be [involved with Merit] from the time they get into APU,” White said. “It will become a common part of the APU experience.”