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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Academics & Research

University offers app to foster students to success


Picture of student holding smartphone and using the Guide app.

Students can download the Guide app to help with goals and set reminders. | Michael Slaten/The Cougar

The University’s latest app, “Guide – College Simplified,” is designed to keep students on track for graduation and provides easy access to many advising features.

The app can be molded to a specific students’ needs and give reminders for tasks or help with advising, said Assistant Vice Provost Melissa Pierson, who manages the app for the University. The app offers tools to help students pick a major or find resources on campus. 

The idea is, ‘how do we customize information for students?’,” Pierson said. “We’re trying to customize it to be exactly what they need.”

The application was first introduced to students in Fall 2016 when a small group of freshmen were told about the application in a test pilot program. The application was then released to all freshmen the following semester and to the entire campus in the Fall 2017.

“If you had shown me this when I was a freshman, I would have loved this,” said psychology sophomore Miranda Dominguez.

Instead of relying on the app, Dominguez said she relies on her own systems to keep track of her school in the same way the application does. But the app could be useful for those who don’t have their own system in place, she said. 

When a student logs into Guide, they have multiple options to use, including “My Path,” a service which provides students several tasks and reminders based on a student’s classification.

“Things change as you go through the years,” Pierson said. “As you get to your upper division classes, there’s specific steps aimed for that. As you get to your senior year and you need to start looking for jobs and applying for graduation, then those steps start to show up.”

Tasks can include reminding students to review their financial plan, reminding them of specific deadlines and informing students of campus events, Pierson said.

The most popular tool is the “Major Explorer,” Pierson said. With this option, students can answer a series of questions regarding their interests and they are given suggested majors. Students can then look into the major, learning about hiring demand or average salary. 

Campus resources such as career planning and financial aid can be viewed in the app. It will show students where it is located along with office hours and the offices’ phone number.

Advising help

The application can also be used as a supplement to advising, Pierson said.

“If you’re the kind of student that doesn’t want to talk to somebody anymore, we want to give you this self-service tool so you can do it on your own,” Pierson said. 

The difference, Pierson said, between this app and standard advising is in the way the information is received. Instead of a student having to schedule a meeting or converse through emails, a student can have most resources available for them on their phone, Pierson said. If a student turns on notifications for the app, they can receive information straight to their phone.

Computer information systems sophomore Ashly Hernandez said she likes how the app sends notifications to her phone, because she otherwise wouldn’t notice.

“I would say that we’ve actually talked to students already who have come in because of something they saw on the app,” Pierson said. “So if there’s a chance it’s encouraging more students to come in that wouldn’t otherwise have, I think that’s a positive.”

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