“When they’re looking at an event they want to go, they can click on it and add it to their calendar, and it’ll tell them whether it conflicts with something else that they have in there,” Hoff says. “We like that feature because it can tell students if an activity they want to do is going to conflict or not.”
Hoff says it took the university and OOHLALA one month to implement the app. Since the install, the school saw a major impact on students – especially with new students.
“The biggest impact was been the acclimation process for our new students,” Hoff says. “They’re all excited; they go in and download the app right away during their new student conferences…One of the big things for our department is making sure students feel welcome and that they feel like they belong, that this is a place they can seem themselves thriving in for the next four years.”
Danial Jameel, CEO and cofounder of OOHLALA, says it was great to see new students use the app and engage with current students so quickly.
He says the app helped students not only make connections and fast friends with current students, but prepared them for college life.
“What was amazing was that in the first week, 68 percent of students who were registered on the app had a social connection right away,” Jameel says. “Eighty percent of them were engaging on the campus wall…Here were students asking, what does my common room look like, do I need a printer, how much money should I get? In the entire community, you’d actually have students taking pictures of their dorm rooms and say, here’s what you need, here’s where you need to go. That’s never happened before.”
Tips to Encouraging Engagement on Campus
1) Check for efficacy
Jameel says before colleges select a platform like OOHLALA Mobile, they should make sure its offered features will meet their needs.
If schools don’t check the applicability of a solution’s features to their needs, they may end up buying unnecessary additives for useless features, and ultimately waste money.
“A lot of times, people are just buying stuff for the features and if it doesn’t work, [they think]oh well, let’s just forget about it,” Jameel says. “Ask for efficacy. Make sure that the features you’re using actually solve an intended outcome for students and actually improve their lives. Hold companies accountable for that.”
2) Get students involved
Hoff says Texas A&M had success with OOHLALA Mobile’s app due to getting students, such as orientation leaders, involved with it.
He says new students that see current students using the app will think it’s “fun or cool,” and are more likely to try it out.
Plus, the app creates a tighter-knit community between new students and current students, sometimes before they even meet in person on campus.
“They get a chance to know each other,” Hoff says. “It’s been a way for them to connect with each other, and I think it increases that comfort level before they arrive on campus. They feel like they’re connected to their classmates, faculty and staff.”