Students’ college orientation experience plays a significant role in how they perceive their overall higher-ed experience, according to new survey data.

According to the survey, students who had a positive experience with college orientation were 17 percent more likely to report a positive student life experience. Students with a poor orientation experience were 71 percent more likely to report grades of C or lower.

The survey, which explores student life on campus, was conducted by OOHLALA Mobile, a higher-ed company that partners with colleges and universities to develop custom mobile apps to improve engagement and retention.

The impact of college orientation also raises important questions for universities serving part-time students: more than twice as many part-time students (25 percent) did not participate in orientation, compared to full-time students (9.5 percent).

(Next page: Campus officials weigh in on the survey results)

“The research is clear that student engagement in the first year on campus is critical to improving retention and completion, especially for commuter, low-income, and first-generation students. But engagement is often a black box. This survey was designed to identify meaningful insights directly from students,” said Danial Jameel, co-founder and CEO of OOHLALA. “The data bring to light the importance of helping students navigate campus life, both at the outset of college and throughout their daily journey.”

In addition to shedding light on the importance of student orientation, the survey also addressed other barriers to engagement on campus. Time management was the biggest challenge faced by students across all ages and institutional types. In addition, students are 48 percent more likely to report satisfaction with student life when they can use a mobile app to find information, versus searching the school website.

College leaders say the survey results show that mobile approaches can be highly effective when it comes to engaging students in important events.

“We know connecting students to campus life and support is fundamental to ensuring retention and success. As we’ve seen from the data and our work with OOHLALA, mobile is an effective tool we have at our disposal to engage students in impactful events like orientation,” said Elizabeth Blevins, director of communications at Shawnee State University. “We’re grateful for the insights surfaced as we work tirelessly to uncover students’ common pain points and challenges.”

Conducted during the Fall 2016 semester, the survey captured data from nearly 25,000 students at more than 150 of OOHLALA’s partner institutions in North America.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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