This summer, the University of Mary Washington rolled out its first student-centric mobile app, designed to help navigate the college experience. Initially introduced to freshmen, the app is now available to the entire student body.
Designed by the Education Advisory Board (EAB), “Guide” is a mobile app that provides students with support where they’re most likely to see it – on their phones. Personalized “paths” of aggregated “journeys” guide users through the flurry of steps involved in a first college semester. Students can use the app to schedule appointments with their advisors, view their calendars and class schedules, and access a variety of on-campus and local resources.
“More than 85 percent of students used the app during orientation,” said Professor of Communication Anand Rao, who oversees the app in his role as interim director of UMW’s Quality Enhancement Plan. “That’s the highest adaptation rate that EAB has seen for a new school using Guide.”
Since its launch this summer, 1,142 users have opened the UMW app 19,496 times. They’ve viewed more than 136,200 pages and completed more than 13,000 steps in their journeys. In addition, the app has been used to resolve 70 holds on student accounts, providing faster service and communication between university offices and students.
“As a first-generation student, I didn’t know which forms I needed or when,” said Breanna Reingold, a freshman from Wilmington, North Carolina. “It was so great to have this leading force to guide me through the first few weeks of college.”
Reingold has used the app extensively these first weeks of the semester, completing Honor Council and Title IX training by the deadlines when prompted. The app also told her when her health forms were due and guided her around campus to help her find her classes with GPS-coordinated buildings.
“I hear from my friends at other schools about how stressful it is to figure all of this out on your own,” said Reingold. “It was a nice surprise to see that UMW has this kind of technology for students.”
While freshmen were getting used to the app this summer, UMW built out additional content for upperclassmen to tailor journeys to the student experience at the sophomore, junior and senior levels.
“A senior student’s journeys are going to be different than those of a first-year student,” said Rao, who reported that 160 upperclassmen were already using the app, even before the University had formally announced its launch. “Seniors will have journeys and resources related to applying for grad school, taking the GRE, networking with alumni, using the career center and preparing for graduation.”
In the coming months, UMW hopes to add additional content to support journeys for different majors. In addition, UMW plans to integrate its newest faculty app – called Campus – with Guide to allow for easy scheduling and communication between students and advisors.