July 23, 2018
Matthew Sherlock, Ex Libris
Before we know it, the current academic year will be over. But even before this graduating class has thrown their mortarboards in the air, our thoughts begin to focus on the thousands of new students who will soon be arriving on campus.
These new students will feel a mixture of excitement and fear about the journey they are about to embark on. For many it will be their first experience of living away from home. They will meet new people and discover new ways of learning.
Using mobile apps to guide students through the orientation period…can be crucial.
With so much happening during the first few weeks of the semester, it is perhaps predictable that student dropout rates are high at the start of the academic year, and that new students also need a great deal of additional support.
There are many reasons why attrition rates are disproportionately high at this time, ranging from students feeling insufficiently prepared for university life and learning to concerns over the value for money that their courses offer. The challenge for institutions is how they can ease the transition for their students and make it easy to access support services while not adding administrative overhead.
One of the key ways that institutions accomplish this is to dedicate some time to welcome and orientation activities. These activities can act as a bridge for students, letting them dip their toes in the water of university life, get all of their administrative “to-dos” out of the way, and start building friendships before they begin their actual studies.
There is a huge amount of work that goes on in the background to ensure that these events go smoothly and that new students have an exceptional first experience of life on campus. Anything that can be done to make welcome and orientation easy to administer and, by extension, to ensure that the student is retained can only be a good thing.
It is no surprise, then, that progressive institutions are increasingly looking for ways that mobile solutions can help students during this period. Using mobile apps to guide students through the orientation period and provide support throughout the academic year can be crucial, as this is a way to get students the information they need when they need it, in a way they are used to accessing it.
Using Mobile Apps for Student Orientation
For students, the benefits of mobile engagement are clear. Students often use their personal devices multiple hundreds of times a day. They check it within minutes of getting up and even during the night. If their university can embrace this communication channel, students can feel part of the institution even when not on campus.
Push notifications through mobile devices can impart vital information or remind users of upcoming dates and deadlines, a personalized itinerary available on students’ phones can allow them to build their own orientation program, and quick access to support services can mean the difference between a student reaching out for help or dropping out of class.
For the institution, mobile can provide a one-stop shop, promoting essential academic and social information in one place so students don’t have to jump from one system to another or travel from one service point to another to get the information they need.
The Importance of Analysis
Another benefit is that while students access information, valuable student data is generated. The effective analysis of this data enables proactive intervention initiatives that can spot at-risk students and ensure they get the right support. As technology continues to evolve and artificial intelligence and machine learning become common place, more and better analysis will be possible. With the right platform to manage this process and just as importantly, reflect the findings back to students, lecturers and administrators, the needed assistance and support will become easier to deliver to those who need it.
There are exciting times ahead for everyone involved in student retention and engagement, and at campusM we are committed to assisting institutions in improving retention rates by giving them a powerful platform that delivers content and services directly to the device of their choice. It is easier than ever to make new students feel welcome, and returning students feel engaged.