Competition to earn a degree has never been higher. With about 31% of the U.S. population between the ages of 25 and 64 holding a university degree, higher education is fighting for their share of students. At the same time, technology such as mobile geolocation provides differentiation that universities can use to attract, engage, and retain students. Here are five ways higher education can use this rapidly growing technology:
1. Engage Prospective Students
Attracting students is becoming harder and harder as more look for information on their own terms. Geosocial works in a circular fashion, with an already engaged community proudly displaying and interacting with their university to prospective students. This comes in the form of optional published check ins on other sites such as Facebook and Twitter (33% of high school students research using social media), as well as providing a social network private to the university (76% of inbound freshmen supported this). By giving prospective students a look into the vibrant geosocial community that is private to students, staff, and alumni only, and even the ability to download and use the application ahead of time, universities let their community make the case for them.
2. Make Orientation Interactive
Once admitted, new students are able to engage with and envelope themselves in their new community much faster than they would be capable or willing otherwise. The privacy that a geosocial application can provide allows the student to engage freely, without fear of worldwide (or even unwanted) access to their data. Thus, they can grow their relationships faster and stronger, and feel truly a part of their university's community. Starting with orientation, universities can involve students in icebreaker competitions through location-based games. Move-in days can provide another great opportunity to earn new stickers, as students explore their future homes for the first time. Place "easter eggs" in the forms of special stickers and around the campus to encourage exploration of the quad, the libraries, the arts hall, and more. Early events, such as football games, are another welcoming party for new students, so create activities such as snapping a photo of an alum wearing a school sweater and earn a special sticker or extra points.
3. Encourage Maximum Campus Engagement and Interaction
Geosocial provides unparalleled avenues for incentivizing activity. Customized rewards can be presented for checking into class (on time), study groups, university events, and any other behavior you feel deserves rewarding. This real-world behavior occurs offline, with geosocial providing the platform for connecting the university with students. For example, award students the "Night Owl" badge for checking into a library past 11pm and reward dedication to their studies.
4. Extend the University Community to Online Students
Just because they aren't on campus doesn't mean they don't want to be a part of the university's community. By providing a mobile method for connecting with fellow students in meaningful and personal ways, online students can experience a stronger educational experience. Features like friending, reviewing, viewing/adding photos, and competing for points and stickers, all while in a location- and community-aware context, provides the perfect platform for a stronger relationship.
5. Bring Alumni Back Into the Fold
Alumni are a massive source of community and donations. A geosocial application encourages engagement and continued participation within the community. This makes it more likely they will support events, network on behalf of the university, and even donate.
In the end, students want the best educational experience available. Building a strong community with geosocial attracts applicants, helps new students flourish, incentivizes favorable behavior, allows online students to feel connected, and engages alumni. And keeping students is just as important as attracting them. Being a part of a strong community, one in which you have invested a lot of time, will serve to retain students better than any other method. Motivation to continue, even in the face of external obstacles, comes in the form of personal relationships and a strong support network. If you want to learn more about how GeoSocial will transform the educational experience, you can see our University page, send us an email, or @ us on Twitter.