The UMass App: Enhancing Move-In Day, New Student Orientation and the Overall Student Experience

Submitted by on Tue, 05/17/16

At the end of each summer, students head to campus to begin a new school year. Some are returning, and others are brand new. In order to coordinate a typically hectic time, with thousands of students and their families descending on campus, the University of Massachusetts Amherst deployed a mobile app dedicated to Move-In, New Student Orientation, and Student Life.

umass_livingatumass_homeAlthough UMass Amherst already offered its students a centralized mobile campus app called “Go UMass” for all campus-related activities like dining, maps, news, and directories, the “Living at UMass” mobile app was created by Student Affairs to focus specifically on student life, with modules for event calendars, housing selection, campus organizations, athletics, career services, and more.

The UMass app was heavily promoted during the early school year events, to drive adoption so that its use became routine. Then as students progressed through their first year on campus, they would always know to turn to the app to find up-to-date content to meet their current needs.

Here’s how the new app was specifically used for Move-In Day, Orientation, and beyond:

UMass wanted to reduce the stress of Move-In Day and give families more energy to enjoy the day. To do this, they created a central Move-In resource with readiness checklists, custom directions to avoid closed roads, and specialized timelines for early arrivals, first-year students, and upperclassmen.

They also sent push notifications out to all students to remind them to bring their important documentation required for Move-In Day.

After Move-In Day, the app was updated to be an interactive tool for UMass’ newest students. The Move-In screens were removed and replaced with first-week need-to-knows such as registration information, deadlines, information about joining campus organizations, event calendars, Orientation sessions, roommate info, room swap options, and health, multicultural, and academic resources.

Promoting the apppush_notifications_mobile_apps at orientation was a great way to connect new students with the university and guide them through their first weeks, and first year.

First Year
Following Orientation, the app was again updated, this time to became a vital resource for new students with the important information they need to become acclimated to the university in those first few weeks and beyond.

The app for the academic year included:

  • A custom student life contact section, which enabled students to call or text a variety of support staff without needing to search the entire campus directory.
  • Searchable maps so ensure that students could find the building they were looking for and not be late to those first classes
  • A single, centralized event calendar puling across departments and activities
  • The ability to set up career services appointments via the app to help find campus jobs or internships
  • Information about joining clubs and participating in campus rec activities
  • Information about where to find academic resources
  • Safety and security tips and resources
  • Resources on diversity and inclusion and how to report bias-related incidents.
  • Information about sustainability initiatives on campus, like where to find recycling stations, hydration stations, and composting.
  • Tools to interact with the administration as well as other students and organizations.
  • Opportunities for feedback on the app itself.

By engaging with students on mobile from Day 1, UMass was able to capture an eager audience and the students became accustomed to using the mobile app for any student life resource they may need.

Additionally, the Living at UMass app was implemented so that changes could be made quickly and easily by non-IT staff and made live without resubmission to the app stores, so that it always provided fresh, relevant and useful content. By continually updating the app to follow the students’ journey through orientation, the first semester, and the remainder of their academic careers, the app will continue to be the go-to resource on campus.

Learn more about what UMass did, and how you can create a similar app by watching our webinar on-demand, “Put Out the Mobile Welcome Mat: Engage Students with Apps for Orientation and Move-In.

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