UD students track successes with Merit program

By: Rose Rucoba — Staff Writer

Merit is an online resource for college students to develop a positive online presence by recording their awards and achievements. The program is similar to LinkedIn but is specific to college students.

UD’s recent implementation of the program aims to help students succeed beyond the classroom to attract the attention of employers, graduate schools and internship programs.

The program helps track and chart students’ success, so they have a resource to turn to when displaying their credentials for landing a job, getting into graduate school or applying for an internship.

According to Shawn Robinson, associate director of media relations, Merit was brought to UD in February 2013. Since then, more than 13,000 UD students have established Merit pages and 43 percent of students—including last year’s graduates—are active users of the program.

There have been almost 36,000 views of and more than 186,000 social media impressions—or times someone interacts with a social media post—for these pages.

“It can help students give prospective employers a resume of their self-selected activities and university verified accomplishments,” said Dana Sellers, interim director of UD’s Enrollment Strategies and Enrollment Services, in an email interview with Flyer News.

Every UD student has a personal webpage on the Merit website and has a “badge,” or online sticker symbolizing an accomplishment, for enrolling at the university.

When students achieve significant accomplishments, UD will write a success story about them.
UD then posts these stories on the Merit website and sends a copy of the story to the student’s hometown newspaper with the hope it will be published.

Friends and family then can view the student’s success back home, while Dayton gets good publicity for its students’ accomplishments.

“At Merit, our goal is to make every student’s Merit page a place where their verified achievements and affiliations tell the story of their success in college and beyond,” said Colin Mathews, CEO of Merit, in a press release.

In addition, students can customize their Merit page by adding additional activities, awards or internships.

In this way, a student’s Merit page serves as a self-building resume for all the accomplishments achieved during college.

UD senior Ian Dollenmayer has benefitted from Merit first-hand.

“I had a success story written about me regarding my time in Washington, D.C. in summer 2014 when I participated in the DC Flyers program,” commented Ian in an email interview with Flyer News. “That summer, I worked in the Office of Congressman Don Young of Alaska and the leadership office of Speaker of the House John Boehner in the U.S. Capitol. The story was a quick 2-3 paragraph blip about my positions and work.”

Merit’s website is easy to navigate and organizes students’ accomplishments into three categories: Education, Activities and Affiliations, and Work Experience.

Within these three categories, Merit recognizes 11 different kinds of accomplishments, including volunteer work, graduation, leadership, dean’s list, academic awards and study abroad.

The website keeps track of students’ success throughout their college career, so they can demonstrate all their accomplishments at Dayton, and use them when an opportunity arises.

“UD helps students build their profile by adding accomplishments to their profile, but it also allows students to track their own activities, as well,” Sellers said.

The website has several social media tabs at the top of the student’s page, so they can easily share their successes with others.

Students can also look up other people from their high schools that have been recognized for their accomplishments through Merit.

With all their achievements in one place, students can use the data Merit has stored to not only promote their success for family, friends, employers and various academic programs to view, but also to promote it.

When employers discover negative images and comments online, such as on college students’ Facebook pages or other social media, it can deter them from hiring young people. Merit provides a safe and positive place for college students to display their success and show employers who they are.

Director of Career Services Jason Eckert, Director of Career Services concurred in an email interview: “It is important for students to claim a positive presence online, as employers frequently search for a student’s online presence and involvement with social media.”

Click here if you want to set up a Merit profile.

Flyer News: Univ. of Dayton's Student Newspaper