For freshmen, the first week on campus can be a hectic, stressful experience. As much as colleges and universities do everything they can to ease the transition, provide direction and make students feel comfortable, new students can still be overwhelmed. Who can blame them? For many, college is the first step toward independent life, and there’s a lot to take care of. So how can these institutions for higher education better prepare new students for life on campus?
Of course, New Student Orientation is a pivotal event on most campuses and provides a great opportunity for students to gather and bond through an extensive agenda of special events, outings, presentations, games and more. In addition, Orientation is the first impression that schools make on their students. How can this experience be enhanced and complemented to present the university in the best possible light?
One answer is through mobile apps. These are increasingly the preferred media for Generation Y. According to Nielsen, 85 percent of millennials aged 18 to 24 owned a smartphone in the second quarter of 2014, up from 77 percent one year prior. What’s more, 86 percent of users said they preferred apps over mobile web. As a group that’s grown up with smartphones and tablets, millennials speak the language of the mobile app. Colleges can leverage this mobile literacy by creating special event apps geared toward easing first year students’ transition into campus life. And the good news is that it has never been easier for non-technical staff like student affairs and marketing to create mobile apps quickly for any event.
There are a few specific areas where a dedicated app for New Student Orientation can offer immense benefits. Read on to find out more:
1. Build a sense of community
Adjusting to campus life brings emotional challenges for students. Students can feel homesick or detached if the university doesn’t foster an open, friendly, and helpful community. In this way, technology doesn’t keep students from engaging – it actually helps to bring them together.
A mobile app for New Student Orientation can enhance the community by providing a dashboard for students and parents to access anything from event schedules, pre-arrival checklists, sharing on social networks, photos, videos, resources from student organizations and much more. In addition, features available in native mobile apps like push notifications and in-app banners are critical for staying in constant contact with new students, making sure they attend events and preventing them from missing important deadlines.
2. Help students get where they’re going
Some campuses have hundreds of buildings and whether it’s a big-city campus or a small-town bubble, new students often have difficulty figuring out exactly where the science building is relative to their dorm room or how to find that next event on their orientation schedule. With everything else that comes with the first week of classes, the last thing a student needs is to get lost and show up in the wrong building.
An event app for Orientation can address this issue by seamlessly integrating with geolocation services and maps unique to the campus. Not only can these resources display the campus as a whole, but they can also highlight the quickest routes with pathfinding, label significant buildings, provide indoor floor plans and help students when they’re going the wrong way. Apps can also provide immediate, real-time access to campus shuttle information allowing students to find the right bus and get to the stop on time.
3. Don’t forget academics
The registrar is the bane of some students’ existence. Too often the online portal is outdated, difficult to navigate and slow to react. To make matters worse, students must reference outside sources like the course catalog or their advisors to determine which classes they need to take, how their schedule fits together, where the classrooms are located, who the professors are and a number of other data points.
But rather than leaving the legwork up to the already-overwhelmed new students, campus apps can simplify the entire process. The app can bring together relevant information under a single umbrella, providing a one-stop tool for students to learn all they need to know when building a schedule. Plus, these programs might even be enhanced to allow class reviews, related courses or any other pertinent material.
Campus apps are a great way to engage students in all aspects of student life and can increase the success of events like New Student Orientation. Ultimately, these students will continue to use the app throughout the years, making it easier than ever for them to gain the information and resources they need for a successful and productive college career.BACK TO BLOG