Enable Success for Graduate Programs with A Mobile App
Imagine this scenario: you’ve been accepted into the graduate program of your dreams and are officially a graduate student. Throughout the next few years, you’re planning on establishing strong connections with your peers and professors, leveraging those connections to network with people in your intended industry, and landing your dream job (or getting a promotion at your existing one). Earlier today, you stepped onto campus to attend graduate orientation and were whisked away for a day full of information. The day’s now come to an end. Your hands are full of paper brochures and packets, your head full of information. You’re left wondering how to retain everything as you transition to a new school, new responsibilities, and a new life as a graduate student.
Many new graduate students share similar feelings as they step into the first semester of their graduate program, which is why it is especially important for universities to create proper departmental, program, and advisor expectations at the onset of program entry. A mobile app is a great way for universities to provide a comprehensive overview of the entire program and enable their students for success.
We previously discussed the importance of communicating your message and instilling the heart of your institution to your student body. This is easily accomplished with a mobile experience– from the moment they initially step foot on campus and throughout the rest of their academic career. Let’s now switch gears and discuss the distinctions between undergraduate and graduate programs and how you can provide a more innovative experience that truly connects with your graduate students.
Unlike undergraduate programs, which typically span between four to five years, graduate programs are significantly shorter, with the majority of programs requiring between one and a half to two years. And, unlike undergraduate programs that are geared toward incoming first-year students who are transitioning into college life and independence, graduate programs are mostly comprised of professionals, non-traditional and/or commuter-based students. Consequently, it is incredibly important for higher education institutions to create mobile app environments that are intuitive, resourceful, and easily accessed.
A Mobile Experience From Start to Finish
Begin with a well thought-out orientation program that is designed to assist students throughout the entirety of the graduate school experience. Use a mobile app to supply students with all of the campus resources they’ll need to help them reach their end goal. Utilize existing students as internal resources to create a departmental culture conducive to fostering student engagement, which will help new students transition into graduate school. Create a platform that encourages interactions between graduate students and faculty to further their career and life aspirations.
Graduate program students are likely very busy. They have personal and/or professional responsibilities and will appreciate having all of resources they’ll need contained in one app — this saves them a lot of time spent scouring university websites for information or perusing through unsearchable paper handouts! Check out the next section for what resources you should provide in your app.
And, lastly, transition students from graduate students to alumni once they finish their program. An app is a great way to provide information about events and to remain connected once they’ve stepped off campus.
What Resources You Should Provide In Your App
The heart of a successful app is content. Without a focused and intent-driven message, you won’t be able to expect much from its implementation. Because the app is a self-contained communication/social channel, it’s worth putting thought into a cohesive narrative that will influence the content of your app as a whole. The app content and structure should be an intentional environment, which is created with the same thought and care as your departmental learning objectives.
Here are some examples of key information to include in a graduate program app:
- Graduate Events. Detail the important what’s-and-when’s so your graduate students know what’s going on and can get involved. Segment your events into different categories. If you have events specifically for professional development, call them out and label them differently than social or wellness events. Have suggestions for events they should attend? Highlight them with your event ‘Picks of the Week.’ Make sure to highlight important deadlines on your calendar as well!
- University Basics/Campus Resources. Include all of the information a graduate student may need. From the graduate student handbook to academic appointment resources, writing centers, tips on how to survive and thrive in graduate school, benefits, and other resources. Your graduate students will be happy to have all of this information available at the tip of their fingers.
- Graduate Division Directory. Provide all relevant contact information (i.e. phone numbers, emails, office locations) that your students may possibly need. If you already have a directory on the university site, you can incorporate this in your app without any extra work.
- Points of Interest. Chances are that not all of your students are familiar with your campus and the surrounding city. Students may occasionally commute or simply need assistance learning a new campus. Highlight special landmarks that make your university special or recommend restaurants. You may even want to include a GPS-guided campus tour.
- Social Feeds/Photos. Instilling a sense of community within your graduate program is important. Create a social feed, like Guidebook’s Interact, so that your students can share their experiences with others, build a community and engage with each other.
How to Promote Your App
Once you’ve created your app, make sure to collaborate with your marketing team to ensure that your university brand and spirit shines. Guidebook Spaces allows you to centralize all your content in a unique, completely branded experience within the Guidebook container app — customize your app splash screens, colors, and icons!
And, most importantly, make sure that your staff and students know the value of the mobile app and promote it well in advance of the start of your programs and maintain constant communication. We recommend connecting your students via multiple channels (e.g. social media and email) to let your students know about the app and its benefits.
To learn more about how you can create an app for your graduate program, click the button below to schedule time with one of our EDU consultants.