Jun 16 2017

4 Ways to Leverage Mobile Devices to Streamline Student Services

Powered by apps, colleges can offer more efficient tools for students.

A whopping 92 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 own a smartphone, reports the Pew Research Center. Today’s colleges are making use of those figures by creating mobile coursework and engaging students via smartphone in class.

Michigan State University has even developed an app that aids in the treatment of depression among college students.

Even more colleges have begun offering apps to their students to make on-campus services more efficient.

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1. Apps Streamline Financial Aid Filings

The University of California, Davis has used a financial aid app to help with important documentation. The tool, which it developed with a third-party vendor, streamlines the process of verifying information — such as family income and Social Security numbers — used to calculate financial aid eligibility.

“This application provides the functionality necessary for a student to upload documents and provide an electronic signature where necessary,” says Deborah Agee, director of UC Davis’s Financial Aid and Scholarships.

2. Interactive Campus Maps Provide Navigation and Historical Context

Forget the paper map. Many colleges are loading their campus maps into an interactive application that new students can take with them anywhere on (or off) campus. The apps also provide virtual tours to prospective students.

Harvard University’s Official Mobile Tour is chock-full of current photos of the Cambridge, Mass., campus that can quickly be compared with historical shots with just a swipe on a smartphone. The app even provides glimpses of significant points near a student’s location on campus.

3. Mobile Apps Can Boost Safety

Florida State University’s SeminoleSAFE app was a collaboration among FSU police and several campus departments to aggregate alerts about everything from hazardous weather to active shooters and for users to report emergency and nonemergency incidents.

“Few applications can claim to have the potential of having a real impact on keeping the user safe, and this application has certainly been designed from the ground up for that purpose,” says Major Jim Russell, FSU’s deputy chief of police, in an article announcing the app.

The app also includes a Friend Walk feature that allows users to send a notification to a friend or family member to track their walk via GPS.

4. Applications Boost Dining Convenience

Whether you’re a student in search of which dining hall is serving pizza or a student with strict dietary restrictions, dining apps have added a dash of convenience to eating on campus.

The Dining@PSU app at Penn State University offers menus and maps for each dining location, and it lets users track their calories.

The University of Illinois’s Dining Mobile App has a menu search feature (so pizza-loving students can track down a slice) and works with students’ meal plan money, so they’ll only need to bring their phones when they’re off to lunch.


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