5 Tips for Using Technology to Improve Campus Life

college students using mobile appsCollege students are digital natives that live and breathe technology. According to IBM, over 65% of Generation Z claims to frequently use more than one device at a time. With hectic schedules, demanding classes, part-time jobs, and ever-evolving technology, today’s students are constantly looking for ways to connect with others and manage their lives. Here are five tips for using technology to connect students to your campus life.

Introduce them to your campus – before they arrive

Every university across the world has a unique campus life and culture, and every potential student is looking for something different from their college experience. Your website, social media accounts, and online groups will be most incoming students’ first impression of your campus. Make sure your first impression is your best, by ensuring your online platforms truly reflect the university’s values, diversity, and opportunities.  

Create digital communities

All students, especially those that are new to your school, are looking for ways to integrate themselves into campus life by finding their people and discovering new passions. The easier you can make this for them, the better! While student activity fairs are a great opportunity for freshmen to explore, upperclassmen and transfer students may be missing out. Whether through paid platforms such as Raftr, or traditional social media accounts, it’s important to give students a digital platform with information that can be explored all year round.

college students on cell phonesMake it easy and accessible

From ordering a ride on Lyft, to having a burrito delivered by GrubHub, students expect to be able to access everything from their phone, and your campus life experience should be no different. No one wants to walk across campus just to find out the library closed an hour ago or the event they were psyched to attend was canceled. Give students instant access to the information they seek, with minimal effort on their end.  (Make sure your information is up-to-date too.)

Promote events in familiar platforms

Gone are the days of designing, printing, and hanging flyers on corkboards around campus, just for them to get overlooked or covered. With so many different activities for students to get involved with on campus, it can be overwhelming to find groups and events that actually matter to them. By using technology, universities can create a more organized and welcoming campus life for students from the moment they set foot on campus.

Increase Transparency

Your students want to be involved, engaged, and educated about campus life at your university. Give them the information that they seek. Technology allows university administrators to create conversations about issues, reach out directly to students, and answer questions instantly. According to Forbes, the current generation has a “very strong B.S. meter,” seeking authentic information and direct, honest discussions. Whether those conversations are about opinions on the cafeteria food, the financial status of the school, or the scandal you’d rather ignore, creating an open dialogue will make students feel heard and more connected to campus.    

Raftr Support: April 30 Product Updates

Raftr publishes app and web updates every two weeks, adding new features, improving existing functions, and providing housekeeping and bug fixes as they arise. Here’s the latest summary of updates from this week’s new platform updates:

Android:

  • Added recent and suggested sections in Search
  • Some fixes, like improving speed in onboarding and enabling shared raft URL’s to open the app properly

iOS:

  • Continued refreshing rafts with updates to: – Private rafts’ front page – All rafts’ info page – Update pinned section on all rafts’ front page
  • Fixes including adding messages when attempting to interact with content on rafts you’re not a member of or when you’re in View-Only mode

Web:

  • Updated raft URL’s to include the raft name
  • Updated events and posts in feed views
  • Updated create event/post flow
  • Added ability to add topics to events and posts (Note: topics are not yet visible)
  • Some fixes including updating login button for anonymous users and enabling proper character limit for rules on rafts
Raftr Blog

Careers in Student Engagement: Expectations vs. Reality

students on college campusIt’s easy to see why people are drawn to careers in student affairs: working on a college campus, interacting daily with students on ways to improve campus life, and assurances that no two days will ever really be the same. That said, there are some challenges that come with the territory, and sometimes the realities of careers in student engagement can differ from the expectations.

Career Positions in Student Affairs

So what do student affairs professionals do? These positions typically cover a broad spectrum of roles, from student life and student activities to campus recreation and residence life. Many colleges and universities have opportunities for highly specialized roles, including first year & orientation directors, diversity and inclusion roles, and transfer student specialists. What all of these positions share, though, is a focus on finding ways to make sure students are safe on campus, successful in their college endeavors, and able to make the most out of this pivotal time in their lives. So what does it take to kickstart a career in student engagement? For most entry level roles, a bachelor’s degree is required, and while degrees can vary greatly, those in business, human resource management, sociology, psychology and education can be helpful. What you may find, though, is that upward mobility is challenging without an advanced degree. Most senior positions require a master’s degree in higher education administration or a similar area of focus, but tuition remission programs at many schools can make it possible to earn that degree while working in student affairs and gaining valuable experience.

A Day in the Life of a Student Engagement Professional

Once you’ve got the foot in the door and you’re working in student affairs, what does daily like look like? This where the expectations and reality may somewhat differ!

Expectation: Fun Events! Concerts! Campus Block Parties, Oh My!

Reality: Limited Budgets! Logistics! Intra-department Coordination, Oh My!

As a student, it’s easy to show up to exciting campus events and easily get drawn into how creating those events on campus would be a fun and fulfilling career – and you would be right! But it’s also easy to overlook the challenges that come with that. Limited budgets and ever-growing needs can require a lot of innovation to overcome, and the amount of time invested into coordinating with other departments and planning logistics for many of these events can be draining.

student affairs professionals meetingExpectation: Challenges and Struggles

Reality: Rewards That Far Outweigh the Challenges

Maybe you’re walking into a career in student engagement fully expecting it to be riddled with challenges to overcome .And you would be right! But the reality is that working with young people, and having the opportunity to serve as a mentor to college students just starting out on their own is one of the most rewarding careers imaginable. You will have the opportunity to make a significant impact on student success on campus, and that will carry over into your students’ lives well beyond college.

Why Choose a Career in Student Affairs?

There are so many benefits to careers in student affairs, and those go even beyond the impact you’ll have. The growth potential is limitless, with opportunities to advance from entry level positions, up to roles as Dean of Students, Vice Presidents, and beyond. The work is exciting and fun, and while you will spend some of your time around a conference room table at meetings, you’ll also be out on campus, meeting with and working with students in a dynamic environment. Many schools offer free or reduced tuition for employees and their families, so you can continue your development and education. Careers in student affairs are fun, rewarding, challenging, and always changing. Once you’ve made the decision to start a career in student engagement, make plans to join a national organization like NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) and let your creativity and innovation help spur the next trend in driving student engagement on campus.  

Raftr Support: April 16 Product Updates

Android:

  • Added “top” search results – which aggregates search results across all types of content (people, rafts, tags)
  • Some fixes like saving “interest” in events from rafts’ front pages and showing time selection as AM/PM

iOS:

  • Updated messaging designs
  • Added cross-post info to events
  • Some fixes like being able to pin events on rafts and raft admin managing raft members

Web:

  • Updated “isolated” full view for posts (when opened via share links or from other views like notifications)
  • Some fixes, mainly to navigation throughout the app (ie: tapping raft name on event or post opening that raft)

Raftr Support: April 3 Product Updates

iOS update

  • Updated the designs for rafts’ front pages, and events and posts sections
  • Some fixes, like Raftr being a sharing option from other apps again

Android update:

Added:
  • Search feature on Explore
  • Events and posts to show less text until you tap “Read more”
  • Raftr as a sharing option from other apps
  • Option to report inappropriate chat messages
Updated:
  • How events and posts are seen when opened from compact view, notifications, etc.
  • How comments and reactions are seen on events and posts
  • App to open on Events screen as default
  • Some fixes to messaging and other features

Web update:

  • Added a “View Only” feature to enable you to check out other schools via the “Visit other universities” button on your profile
  • Updated how events look when opened into an isolated view
  • Some fixes like leaders being able to update raft names

Raftr Support: March 6 Product Updates

Android:
  • Began an overhaul to how events and posts look throughout the app
iOS:
  • Began an overhaul to how events and posts look throughout the app
  • Some fixes like the “join” button disappearing immediately when you join a raft and shared events and posts opening properly
Web:
  • Updated profile a bit so the header and content below are cleaner and the sidebar is relevant
  • A variety of fixes to the front page of rafts – like being able to react or be interested in an event directly there

Raftr Support: February 20 Product Updates

Android:
  • Updated event notifications to include the start time
  • Enabled opening a post into full view from a raft’s front page
  • Some fixes related to the Posts feed and group messaging
iOS:
  • Updated event notifications to include the start time
  • Added show/ hide password feature in onboarding
  • Lots of fixes, like improving the view-only UX
Web:
  • Added a new Events feed so that posts and events can be seen in separate feeds, logging into the app will default you to this screen
  • Updated event notifications to include the start time
  • Updated the header and some sidebars to simplify navigation
  • Some fixes related to rafts’ front pages and group messaging