Orientation Case Study

University of North Carolina Asheville
Case Study

Deploying an Orientation Solution

Wanting to leverage a virtual orientation program for first-year students, UNC Asheville deployed Raftr in the summer of 2020 to both deliver important information to new students and allow them to connect with one another, early.

UNCA Half Phone

Sarah Smith

Director of Transition & Parent Programs

“The possibilities with Raftr are endless! The updates and analytics from Raftr have helped to support the work we are doing in Student Affairs in helping our students connect to each other and the University during the semester. It’s been great to have concrete numbers of how students are engaging with the app.

UNCA has access to so many options and ways to build our community. I feel that I have built good working relationships with the staff on Raftr. As we were creating our platform over the summer and training on how to use Raftr we had individualized attention and still have that to this day. If I have any problems or questions, I can reach out to someone specific and get an immediate response. My experience with Raftr has been personal and seamless. It has been so great, that our Residential Education staff jumped on to Raftr too! “

The Approach

Peer-Led Groups

Orientation leaders were established as administrators of their own private channels (which included professional staff oversight) in an effort to bridge the communication gap with first year students.

Campus Information

First year students were also able to easily access helpful, campus-wide information and resources, including: maps, campus dining guides, & more.

Social Experiences

Students created a series of rafts centered around their own interests and affinities, and were able to forge friendships and build a support network, before arriving on campus.

The UNCA Embark Orientation implementation involved 68 private messaging channels led by student orientation leaders, to: connect with incoming students, provide critical information, and help manage & schedule live Zoom sessions, and other virtual programming.

Students also had the opportunity to create their own groups where, over the course of the summer, they were able to remotely:

          • meet new friends
          • forge relationships
          • facilitate roommate matches

The Results


First Year Students



User Sessions



Hours Communicating & Gathering Information



Group and Direct Messages


UNCA was looking for an opportunity to create supplemental programming during the summer while making plans for what the Fall semester was going to look like in regard to COVID-19.

They selected Raftr for being cost effective, and easy to deploy & use, from both administrators and students alike. It provided an engaging platform that appealed to students, and acted as a way to create digital communities to help students build real connections, while participating in a virtual orientation.

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