Local college graduates receive a digital diploma for the Facebook age

ALBANY, NY – When local students graduated from college this month, they didn’t just receive a traditional paper diploma. Many also received a digital version from their colleges, in the form of a badge on a personalized Merit page.

Almost 500 colleges across the country are making sure that new graduates have a validated online showcase of their college achievements on meritpages.com. Local residents are among the two millions students whose accomplishments, ranging from making the dean’s list to studying abroad to graduating, were verified with digital badges by their colleges.

Some local students earning badges include:

Randy Kieffer of Bernhards Bay, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Katrina Coe of Central Square, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Heather Eckes-Conway of Cleveland, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Brittany McCann of Fulton, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Jesica LaSalle of Hannibal, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Danielle Magrisi of Mexico, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Ryan Pekarek of Minetto, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Christopher Cahill of Oswego, who graduated from Herkimer County Community College.

Tim Lamay of Oswego, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Kimberly D’Imperio of Parish, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Joshua Caples of Phoenix, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Nicole Correia of Pulaski, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

Chelsea Crump of Sandy Creek, who graduated from SUNY Oswego.

The badges are not only a way for students to share their achievements with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, but they automatically build a professional online presence — and that’s critical in making students more attractive to potential employers.

“More than 75 percent of employers Google an applicant during the hiring process,” said Colin Mathews, CEO of readMedia. The company’s Merit software powers the digital badges and student and school profiles at Meritpages.com.

“By validating and recognizing accomplishments, institutions can give students an advantage by ensuring that their achievements are easily discoverable,” Mathews said.

Unlike other sites that cater to professionals later in their careers and require users to create and build their own profiles, like LinkedIn, Merit pages are automatically created for students by their colleges. College-verified achievements are highlighted for each student, and students can choose to add additional campus activities or work experience to their Merit page.

Commencement badges also make it easy for distant friends and family to share in the joy and recognition of such an important milestone.

“Friends and family love seeing and commenting on achievement badges on Facebook,” Mathews said. “Students have worked hard during college and have a lot of people pulling for them. Seeing that commencement badge is cause for celebration for students and everyone in their network.”

Parents and students can contact the president of their college to make sure important achievements, like graduation, are being recognized with digital badges from Merit.