College students can use Twitter as a resource. Photo courtesy of stevegarfield. Licensed under CC BY-2.0

Today’s guest post comes from Thomas Frank who is a student at Iowa State University, IA and the founder of College Info Geek. You can find out more about him at his website and follow him on Twitter.

Twitter, the microblogging website, has been around for almost five years now. While the site now has over 200 million users, many students still believe that it’s a waste of time. Part of the reason for this belief is the misconception that Twitter is only used to broadcast inane messages like “I’m eating a taco” or “Snookie is my role model”. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is Twitter a much more robust and useful service than it’s perceived to be, but it can also be of great benefit to you as a college student. Here are my top four reasons that you should be on Twitter:

You can build a personal brand

Twitter gives you the ability to garner an audience, and you can broadcast whatever message you want to that audience. Why not leverage this great opportunity and start setting yourself up as an expert? You’re in college to get a degree and become an expert in your field; Twitter can help you let other people know that. Set up and account and make your interests known. For example, I’m an Information Systems major, so I’m interested in technology. However, I’m also passionate about entrepreneurship and helping people succeed in college. Therefore, a good amount of what I tweet about has to do with those three things.

You can do this with whatever field you’re in. Fashion major? In Style, Vogue, and tons of other magazines are all on Twitter. You can follow them, retweet articles – anything that makes it known that you’re interested.

You can connect with people at your school

Yes, we all know Facebook is the best way to keep in touch with your local friends. However, Twitter can be a much better tool for connecting with people at your school with the same interests, and you’ll usually have much more interesting conversations. There’s something about Twitter that encourages more meaningful conversation than what bar you went to last Friday night.

TwellowHood is a great tool for finding other Twitter users at your school or in your city. The site gives you a world map, and then lets you drill down to your city. Once you’ve selected it, the site gives you a listing of all the users who tweet from that location. I was actually able to find a few friends from high school using this tool.

Twitter provides news faster than any other service

CNN and FOX might feed you the big stories, but what the vast majority of news that falls between the cracks? Twitter catches all of it. The very nature of the site encourages people to tweet about what’s going on, meaning the moment something happens there are tweets coming out about it. As a web developer, I sometimes find myself the victim of server downtime. A quick Twitter search is all it takes to find out if other users are experiencing the same problem. This is just one example of Twitter’s news-delivering power.

You can use Twitter to find a job

Yes, you can actually use Twitter to help you in your job search! The old mantra, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”, definitely comes into play here. Since Twitter does such a great job at targeting interests, you can bet employers are using the service to find the right candidates for their job openings. Many companies tweet about their job openings, and recruiters search for hashtags related to their opening in hopes of finding a passionate candidate. By crafting a great personal brand, linking your Twitter profile to your website or LinkedIn page, and participating in meaningful conversations, you can get your name and face out there and in front of the companies you care about. For more on using Twitter to get a job, check out Mashable’s exellent article on the topic.

What do you think about using Twitter as a college student? Let us know in the comments!