Chapman students paid by university to create promotional YouTube videos

YouTuber and sophomore creative producing major Megan Umansky (MegsUmansky), has received about 2,700 views on the video Chapman paid her to do promoting the school. A video she made showing her bedroom at her family home scored more than a million views. Photo obtained via YouTube.

Chapman’s digital marketing team is employing a new strategy: soliciting student YouTubers to tout the university in sponsored videos. It’s a new way to sway potential recruits and convince accepted students to commit to the university, according to Assistant Director of Digital Marketing Michelle Leslie.

At least three Chapman-sponsored videos were uploaded to YouTube in the days leading up to May 1, or National College Decision Day. Student influencers, including Megan Umansky, Lindsey Rempalski and Casey Naranjo, uploaded videos discussing their experiences at the university and why they chose to attend.

‘I’m in love with this school. It’s been such a great time and I seriously can’t imagine myself anywhere else,” Umansky says in her video. “The academics are amazing and the teachers are here to help you.”

The increasingly common practice of paying students to promote the universities they attend has raised ethical questions.

“The payment might send the message that positive words can be bought. The value of that testimonial might be called into question,” said Marcia Layton Turner, a freelance writer for the Journal of College Admission.

But who better to sing the praises of a place than the students attending? “Chapman really has shaped me to be a better person,” Naranjo says in her sponsored YouTube video. “The professors here genuinely care about you so much that they’ll go out of their way to meet you after class to help you.”

Neither the influencers or Chapman’s marketing department would disclose how much the creators were paid for making the videos.

Umansky, who often shares videos about her college experience on her YouTube channel, which has 85,000 subscribers – many of them high-school girls –  said she was paid to promote the college, but would not say how much.

“I said yes [to the sponsorship] because I really do love my school, and it fits my channel,” Umansky said.

The other student YouTubers, Rempalski and Naranjo, both agreed to email interviews but failed to follow through after three follow up requests.

“We are satisfied with the [influencers’] excitement to share the reasons they love Chapman, the content they developed and the opportunity to reach prospective students with an authentic account of ‘life at Chapman’ for students,” Leslie wrote in an email to Prowl.

“We chose YouTube because that is the most popular channel for prospective students,” Leslie wrote. “It’s about meeting the audience where they are with the content they are interested in.”

While some people are uncomfortable with the idea of campus influencers being paid to lure recruits to their university, the use of social media to promote colleges is clearly increasing. Universities across the country are testing the waters in marketing with YouTube postings.

The University of Southern California has posted shorter, more traditional advertisements on its YouTube channel to appeal to prospective students. Other schools, including Yale University, have opted to produce longer videos which make the school seem like a social paradise. In Yale’s video, scenes of students playing board games and jazz music evoke a happy summer camp vibe.

Video helps prospective students get introduced to the campus environment, and having real students talk about how much they like their school gives viewers an authentic take, Layton Turner said.

“Awareness campaigns like this spark the interest in younger audiences who are searching for universities, applying for college, or may not have started the consideration at all yet,” Leslie said.

Leslie added that the marketing team hopes to include more influencers in future campaigns.

“Advances in technology and increased use of the internet, social media, etc. are developing new opportunities in these areas,” Leslie wrote. “We hope to explore those new opportunities and evaluate if they align with the University’s Strategic Priorities.”

“Chapman really has shaped me to be a better person, a better creator, more open, more outspoken, more inspired and just better as a human being.” sophomore Casey Naranjo says in her video. “The professors here genuinely care about you so much that they’ll go out of their way to meet you after class to help you.” Photo obtained via YouTube.

The Best Boba Near You

Squishy tapioca balls and creamy sweet milk tea have been an obsession since they originated from Taiwanese street vendors. Bubble tea, or boba, was invented in the late ’80s, most likely in Taipei, according to Food and Wine. It has slowly made its way from the Taiwanese night markets to the cities and communities around us today.

Going out for boba is a common way students will spend their time together. We’ve rounded up a couple of the best boba shops in the Orange County and Los Angeles areas based on the high quality teas, great textured boba, and aesthetic looks.

T-Milk, Orange


162 N Glassell St #A, Orange, CA 92866


Sunday – Thursday: 11AM-10PM

Friday-Saturday: 11AM-10PM

Phone number:




T-milk’s Tiramisu Milk Tea, the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
Photo by Julia Ha

If you don’t have a car and are desperately craving boba, T-Milk is ready to serve you! Located inside the Orange Circle across from The Pie Hole, T-Milk serves unique and diverse toppings such as chia, caramel boba, egg pudding, yogurt jelly, coffee jelly, and red bean to add flavor to any boba drink of your choice.

 Zero Degrees, Westminster


9822 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683


Monday – Friday: 12PM-11PM

Saturday – Sunday: 11AM-11PM

Phone number:




Zero Degrees serve all kinds of drinks including a variety of toppings.
Photo by Jasmine Liu

Have a hard time making decisions? Zero Degrees allows you to pick two flavors and puts it in a split cup so you get the best of both worlds. Don’t forget to check out their trendy food as well; from Hot Cheetos cheese fries to popcorn chicken, you may have a hard time choosing between those as well.

 Pulp Juice Bar, Orange


1525 E Katella Ave, Orange, CA 92867


Monday – Saturday: 7AM-8PM

Sunday: 8AM-7PM

Phone number:




An oolong milk tea boba served in their signature bag.
Photo Courtesy of Josie Tiffany

This boba is made fresh by the baristas in a cute little bag instead of a cup. Aside from boba, Pulp Juice Bar also serves fresh juice, smoothies, and acai bowls. All you need to do is sit down in one of the comfy couches, play some board games, and enjoy your drink!

Omomo Tea Shoppe, Irvine


5365 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92604


Monday, Wednesday-Sunday: 11AM-10PM

Tuesday: Closed

Phone number:




Omomo’s matcha cortado and milk tea with tiramisu cream boba.
Photo Courtesy of Jasmine Liu

Not only are Omomo’s boba drinks very Instagram worthy and pleasing to the eye, but their tiramisu and cheese foam will add the perfect sweet and creamy flavor to your drink of choice. Their most popular combinations are Ceylon Milk Tea with Tiramisu foam and Matcha Latte with Cheese foam.

Little Fluffy Head, Downtown LA


203 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014


Monday – Sunday: 11AM-10PM

Phone number:





Matcha boba with cheese foam and oolong boba tea with cheese foam.
Photo Courtesy of Josie Tiffany

If you happen to be exploring the artsy murals and streets of Downtown LA, stop by Little Fluffy Head for the best cheese foam. It’s like a cheesecake in boba form; what could be better?

Roasting Water, Garden Grove


12035 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92843


Monday – Thursday: 7:30AM-10PM

Friday – Saturday: 7:30AM – 11PM

Sunday: 9AM-10PM

Phone number:





Roasting Water’s milk tea, coffee, and thai iced tea bobas in their signature bottles.
Photo Courtesy of Josie Tiffany

Roasting Water is a cute and aesthetically pleasing boba shop in the area. They are most well-known for their unique presentation. Not only does the boba drinks taste amazing, but your order comes in a reusable glass or plastic bottle with cute seasonal designs.

Ding Tea, Tustin


13820 Red Hill Ave, Tustin, CA 92780


Sunday – Thursday: 11AM-10PM

Friday- Saturday: 11AM-11PM

Phone number:




Ding Tea’s most popular drink: signature milk tea with boba.
Photo Courtesy of Josie Tiffany

Ding Tea is most well-known for their unique and tasty golden boba. They also have a wide selection of drinks, from milk tea, fruity tea, yakult, coffee, and hot drinks.

Sharetea, Santa Ana


3940 S Bristol St #113, Santa Ana, CA 92704


Sunday – Thursday: 12PM-10PM

Friday – Saturday: 12PM-11PM

Phone number:




Sharetea’s passion fruit tea with boba, black tea, black milk tea, and strawberry ice blended with lychee jelly and icecream. Photo by Julia Ha

Besides already being perfectly sweet, a perk is you are able to choose the sweetness of your drink and amount of ice. Personalize it to make your boba worth your money!

Almond Haus, Garden Grove


12549 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92840


Monday – Saturday: 9AM-10PM

Sunday: 9AM-9PM

Phone Number:




Not only does Almond Haus have one of the best boba drinks in the area, but they offer numerous dairy-free drinks such as almond milk tea, coconut thai milk tea, and more. Almond Haus is the perfect for people who love milk tea boba but prefer not to consume dairy.

Prowlin’ on a Penny

You can save money as a Chapman student simply by flashing your Chapman ID. Voila! Instant VIP discounts. The following businesses all extend a discount to Chapman students. Why are we so special? Businesses want our repeat business, and they know we’re likely to be in their neighborhood for at least a couple years. These local eateries offer a 10 percent discount to Chapman students.

The Pizza Press

Photo Courtesy of The Pizza Press

155 N. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866

Open every day 11:00am – 1:00am

Along with a set menu of pizza combinations, The Pizza Press offers a wide array of toppings: smoked gouda, fresh basil, bourbon bacon, and others that are prepared fresh daily. The Chapman community can enjoy 10 percent off their order when they show their Chapman ID. The Pizza Press is a supporter of the “Cancer for College” foundation. For every fountain drink purchased, a portion of the proceeds will go to the charity.

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza

Photo by @kaieatsworld on Instagram

101 S. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866

Open every day 11:00am – 11:00pm

At Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, customers can enjoy a whole pizza for under $10.  Customers have an option between “signature pizzas” or a “build your own.” Blaze offers vegan cheese and vegan protein for plant-based customers. Show the cashier your Chapman ID, and choose between taking ten percent off your meal or enjoying a free drink. Blaze also prides themselves upon offering customers gourmet agua frescas.

The Aussie Bean 

Photo by Brooke Wimmer

112 E. Maple Ave.

Orange, CA 92866

Monday-Friday 7AM – 5PM

Weekends 8AM – 6PM

This coffee shop is run by Chapman grad Natalie Halfacre, class of ‘08, who brought her love for Australian coffee back to Orange. The Aussie Bean shows its Chapman pride by offering ten percent off any order. (Pro tip: sign up for their Square Up program. Every dollar spent transfers into reward stars, which can land you a free drink.)

Green Tomato Grill

Photo by @eatwithnorma on Instagram

1419 N. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92867

Weekdays: 8am – 9pm
Weekends: 9am – 9pm

Past the Orange Circle, but worth the drive to escape a ramen diet, is health food eatery Green Tomato Grill. The menu offers an array of whole food meals such as rice bowl, melts, tacos, wraps and stews. Cashiers take ten percent off your purchase with a Chapman ID.

The Pie Hole

Photo Courtesy of The Pie Hole

177 N Glassell St
Orange, CA 92866

Mon-Wed 8 a.m. -10 p.m.
Thurs 8 a.m. -11 p.m.
Fri – Sat 8 a.m. -12 a.m.
Sun 8 a.m. -11 p.m.

After ace-ing that midterm, Pie Hole offers “I deserve this” desserts. Pie is served by the slice with flavors like Mexican chocolate, earl grey, strawberry lavender and—the most eye catching—Cereal Killer.  Anyone with a Chapman ID card can receive a 10 percent discount off any purchase.

Hug Life

Photo by @2dollartacos on Instagram

3505 Chapman Ave.

Orange, CA 92869

Open every day 12pm – 11pm

This dessert spot opened in August of 2018 next door to the In-N-Out on Chapman Avenue. It is notable for its “anti-dairy” treats. Vegans, those with celiac disease, or those with nut allergies can indulge in creatively-named ice cream such as Green Goblin (mint chip) or Sesame Street (roasted black sesame with dark chocolate). Mention you are a Chapman student and enjoy a free topping!

Sodexo (yes, really)

The Chapman eAccounts online page allows Chapman ID card owners to deposit as little as ten dollars into their “declining balance” account. From there, students can enjoy tax-free food from anywhere on campus when paying with an ID card.