As students progress through the student life cycle, their needs change dramatically. Whether they are freshmen or seniors, the services and resources students require can vary significantly. As an institution, it is important to recognize these differences and ensure that the needs of every student are being met at the appropriate time.
At the beginning of the student lifecycle, as students are getting used to their environment and adjusting to a new way of life, they are focused on gathering information and making friends. New students are unfamiliar with the campus and may not know which services and resources are available to them. They may be deciding which courses to take, what textbooks to buy and which orientation events to attend. This is often the first time they are living away from home and are learning how to do various household chores such as laundry and cooking. On top of this, new students are also looking to build a social circle by meeting peers and making friends. Trying to navigate a complex campus environment while quickly trying to learn new skills and make friends can be extremely stressful for first year students.
As students progress through the lifecycle, they become more familiar with the campus and have a better understanding of their academic requirements. At this point, they have often also established a social circle. Therefore, the resources students needed in their first year may no longer be as relevant in their second year. While new students worry about campus navigation and making friends, mature students might be more concerned with careers and extra-curriculars. However, this shift rarely occurs in a neat, mappable timeline or at any specific moment. In fact, a student’s needs at the end of a semester can be completely different from what they needed at the beginning of the semester.
Identifying Critical Resources
At the beginning of the year, students need access to resources that will ease their transition into student life. Information on New Student Programs, Academic Advising and Residence Life can be particularly valuable. As the year progresses and students become more comfortable, their needs may evolve to include Career Counselling and Financial Aid. As an institution, it is important to recognize this shift within the academic year and provide students with access to the resources that are most relevant to them.
How institutions communicate these resources to students is also extremely important. Today’s students are a mobile-first generation who want to have access to information and resources instantly. A campus app can therefore be an extremely powerful tool to communicate these resources to students when they need them the most.
Using Push Notifications
Push notifications are an effective communication tool that can be used to promote news, events and resources to students at different times throughout the year. Traditionally, institutions used email to inform students about these resources. However, email is becoming less reliable and critical information is often lost due to students simply “missing the email.” As an alternative, push notifications can provide a more effective way of communicating relevant information to students quickly, as it allows them to receive the information they need while they are on the go.
Using Featured Tiles
Another great way of communicating important information and resources to students throughout the year is through a featured tile. These tiles can be used to promote a certain event or service and can be changed based on what resource is the most relevant at that time.
For example, at the beginning of the year, the featured tile can be used to promote Orientation and New Student Programs. After the orientation period ends, this tile can be changed to feature Academic Advising to help students with their courses. Finally, towards the end of the year, the featured tile can be changed once again to showcase Career Advising or to promote Job Fairs in order to help student with their career goals.
Connecting Students to Service Providers
The Campus Wall on your campus app is a powerful tool that connects students to their institution in real-time, allowing them to ask questions and inquire about the campus at any time of day. A great way institutions can leverage this tool is by connecting students with certain service providers during specific times of the year. For example, hosting an “ask me anything” event, or inviting questions can allow students to connect with important services through their mobile devices, without the need of a formal appointment. The type of service providers that connect with students can change depending on the time of the year, once again ensuring that students have access to all of the information and resources they need, at the right time.