Potential, incoming and current Texas A&M University students will soon have the opportunity to take advantage of Student Success Collaborative’s (SSC) Guide, a highly customized smartphone application that will help to ensure they stay on track during their time at the university.
From their first steps on campus to their last walks at graduation, Guide will specifically address their individual needs, from completing and maintaining necessary paperwork to scheduling and attending helpful appointments.
“The number of hours millennials spend on their smartphones is basically a part-time job,” said Education Advisory Board (EAB) Strategic Leader Madeline Pongor. “So, if we’re not meeting students on smartphones where they are expecting to get the information, [and] there’s not enough support in that channel where they are expecting to find support, then we are doing them a disservice.”
Through studies, the EAB, a research, technology and consulting firm that focuses on best practices in higher education management, determined that meeting students’ needs on smartphones is critical.
According to their research, at least 85 percent of millennials own smartphones, and on college campuses that jumps to between 90 and 95 percent. Those students check their devices as many as 43 times daily, accounting for approximately three of 24 hours. Furthermore, compared to non-minority students, minority students depend on their mobile devices three times more for access to the Internet.
The EAB research also found that students want a particular cycle of communication from Guide. They want customized information that cuts through the white noise of numerous messages received every day; they want context to understand what needs to happen and why; they want as many prompts as possible until necessary and recommended tasks are completed; they want quick reminders when deadlines are missed; and they want validation when tasks are achieved.
“They don’t want to miss the one message that says to pay tuition or meet with an adviser among the hundreds some of them receive every day,” Pongor said. “They want to know when they are at risk of getting off track, and if they do get off track, they want to know immediately.”
Like the patient-based population health model used in hospitals, Guide is a student-based platform that is tailored to meet the needs of three different student categories: low, medium and high risk. Low-risk students arrive at the university mostly aware of what they need to do to succeed in college; medium-risk students arrive reasonably informed but need some guidance; and high-risk students arrive with little or no familiarity with the college experience and need highly personalized help along the way.
Within the students’ various personalized pathways, the app will pull information from resources across campus to make sure they stay on track. Additionally, advisers and other staff and faculty who are part of the students’ networks should be able to access the progress their students are making in achieving their goals through the app.
“The adviser can see which steps are overdue and have conversations with students,” Pongor said. “It’s extra information, and an extra tool in their toolboxes.”
Results at other universities using the Guide mobile phone application have shown improved student retention and graduation rates. EAB is working with Texas A&M to customize the product, which it will update and enhance on a continual basis after its rollout in May 2018.
EAB’s technologies, including Guide, are the result of extensive research including 10,000 interviews with students, staff, administrators and students at more than 1,000 universities and discussions with campus partners as well as ongoing enhancements based on 1.2 billion student interactions through the mobile platform.
The smartphone application is expected to improve student recruitment and enrollment processes, boost student retention and graduation rates, and generally maximize efficiency of university resources for the overall benefit of the university and its students.
Media contact: Tim Scott, assistant provost for undergraduate studies, at 979-845-4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Elena Watts, communications and marketing specialist, at 979-458-8412 or email@example.com.