Ah, orientation, the information-packed first peek at college life for new students. Both nerve-wracking and exciting, orientation sets the tone for a student’s college experience.
A survey found that students who rated their orientation experience positively were 17% more likely to continue having a positive college experience. While students with negative orientation experiences were 71% more likely to have poor academic outcomes (such as receiving lower grade point averages). Orientation sets students up for success, both academically and socially. Unfortunately, however, there’s often a disconnect between the information orientation staff sends out and what students actually receive.
And the way students receive that information is also pivotal to their success. The same study cited above also found that 48% of students preferred using an app over a school website to find campus information. So it’s easy to see why having a positive orientation experience boosted by a capable orientation app maximizes student engagement.
But not all orientation apps are created equal. Consider these ten must-have features that will improve your Fall 2021 orientation experience and maximize your orientation app capabilities to help increase student engagement, boost event turnout, and make for successful learning outcomes throughout the year.
#1 Peer-to-Peer Messaging
An easy way for students to meet each other before, during, and after orientation? An in-app messaging platform. This leads to students building relationships before their first orientation session.
#2 Event Schedules
Don’t let students feel overwhelmed by the number of events during orientation. An app with a clear event schedule and a filterable event calendar will help students better understand which events are mandatory, which optional events align with their interests, and which are invitation-only.
#3 Push Notifications
Make sure students know what’s expected of them by sending alerts, reminders, and important announcements directly to their phones.
#4 Directions & Maps for New Students
New school, new living space. Both parents and students will be happy to find directions and campus maps directly on the app. It’ll make parking, orientation, and move-in a cinch.
#5 Virtual Tours
Virtual tours, available directly through the app, are the perfect feature to ensure that students know how to navigate their new stomping grounds. Added benefit? Consider hosting a virtual event day that includes a few integrated virtual tours.
#6 Peer Leader Communication
Messaging between students is one thing, but students also need the ability to seamlessly communicate with RA’s, peer leaders, and college staff. A dedicated communication portal on the app will make both students and peer leaders feel connected and heard.
#7 Dynamic Checklists
Oftentimes students are unsure of whether specific tasks apply to them. With dynamic checklists that are individualized for each student, that’s no longer a problem. Make sure every student gets their orientation paperwork in and have the power to reach out to students (via the app) who have fallen behind.
The ability to create custom guides and upload them for easy access is a no-brainer. It gives students the information they need, stored in the same location.
#9 Check-In Capabilities
Have students check-in to events by using a QR code or self-check-in. This allows campus staff to track event-specific student engagement and participation.
#10 User-Friendly Interface
Today’s students have grown up with the latest and greatest technology, so they’ll be quick to turn their backs on an app that’s slow and difficult to use. While a user-friendly interface isn’t a specific feature, per se, it is an essential component that can make or break student participation on any given app. Make sure the orientation app you choose is functional, looks great, and is easy to use.
What Makes for a Great Orientation App?
A great orientation app includes customizable features, instant communication, personalized notifications, easy-to-locate campus information, and a clean interface that students will want to use.
No matter what orientation app you choose, it’s a pivotal tool that paves the way for a positive orientation experience and improved year-long learning outcomes.