Social Media Strategist


Social Media marketing, strategy and professional development blog for Jon-Stephen Stansel, a social media strategist living in Austin, Texas.

Stop Using Acronyms and Jargon and Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Confession: I work closely to help market campus programs, but when asked what the acronyms that make up their names stand for, I couldn’t tell you. In addition, higher ed is filled with terms jargon that baffle me…and I have Master’s in English.

And I am a high ed lifer. I’m committed to the field. I haven’t just drunk the Kool-aid of higher ed, I’ve chugged it. So believe me when I tell you that in higher ed, we have a problem with unnecessary acronyms and jargon.

Okay, I don’t want to call anyone out specifically. So here are some examples I’ve made up. But, trust me. They aren’t that far off from ones I’ve actually seen:

Peer Educators Note-taking Skills (PENS, get it? Because students use pens!)

Career, Academic, and Family Education (CAFE! We’re like a coffee shop. It’s casual. Like on that show “Friends!” Sorry, we don’t really serve coffee.)

The Center for Undergraduate Academic Advising and Course Registration for Commuter Students (CUAACRCS. It’s doesn’t make any sense but our name is too long. Put the acronym on all our brochures please. We are pretty sure that people will understand it.)

And then there is the jargon. Do students really know that if they want to get help learning study skills that they should visit the “Center for Student Retention?” Or that if they want to pay their tuition that they should visit “Student Business Services?” Come on. That sounds like the copy center at a hotel.

We have to stop creating names that we think are clever or catchy. We have to stop using confusing jargon that we think makes us sound important. Let’s take the advice that we give to first year students in Comp One and write simply and clearly. Let’s know our audience and label things in a way that is useful to them and not self-serving to us. These program titles do nothing more than inflate the egos of those who created them. They do not serve to further the goals that the program was created to achieve.

Instead of that confusing acronym for your career services center, why not just call it the “Career Services Center?” To use an acronym, KISS: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox and return to my office at Social Media for Undergraduates and Graduates. (SMUG)