mobile app first-generation

University taps mobile app to support first-generation students

Partnership with education technology firm OOHLALA is designed to help commuter and first-generation students navigate campus life.

Youngstown State University has announced that through a partnership with OOHLALA Mobile, students can now use their smartphones to seamlessly access course listings, event calendars, payment portals, and other critical resources. The mobile app was designed by recent college graduates and student affairs professionals to improve student engagement and retention.

“Our community includes a large population of commuters and first-generation college students, who often struggle with adjustment to college life, and an array of programs and resources,” said Joy Byers, director of Campus Recreation at Youngstown State University. “OOHLALA has helped us to ‘go mobile’ in a way that’s intuitive for students, drawing on concepts familiar from the consumer web to help them access information and services all in one place.”

Research suggests that the six-year graduation rate for first-generation students is as much as 15 percent lower than for students whose parents attended college. Youngstown State is among the growing number of colleges and universities leveraging technology-based strategies and tools to help first-generation college-goers navigate – and take advantage of – academic coaching, counseling, and other available resources.

“When they arrive on campus, new students are often overwhelmed by a barrage of information about campus activities and support services,” said Danial Jameel, co-founder and CEO of OOHLALA. “The ubiquity of mobile computing now allows colleges and universities to engage their students through an intuitive, familiar platform that brings clarity and transparency to the campus experience.”

The Youngstown Campus App incorporates native mobile technology including smart calendars – which sync with students’ course schedule and Outloook365 – GPS, and customizable alerts to help students navigate campus life. Faculty and student affairs staff are also using the app, which is available for free in the iTunes and Google Play stores and integrates directly with Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Student Information Systems (SIS), to anticipate student engagement in events and activities, and collect real-time data on the student experience.

“The new YSU app provides an easy way for me to organize my classes, groups I’m involved with, and events going on around campus,” said Sarah Drabison, a student at Youngstown State. “Keeping all of my notifications and alerts in one place helps me stay up to date on important information, and gives me peace of mind as I navigate campus life.”

Located just outside downtown Youngstown, Ohio, Youngstown State University serves nearly 13,000 students, 90 percent of whom are commuters who live with their families or in off-campus residences. Eighty-eight percent of Youngstown State students receive financial aid, and more than half of the student population (56 percent) are the first in their families to go to college.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

eCampus News Staff

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