Preparing for and succeeding in college is about to become a whole lot easier, or at least that’s the intention of a set of new app features.
The existing phone app Navigate will have new features such as a checklist for new students, academic planning tools, course/major success rates and opportunities for departments to share information regarding career plans, academic goals and information concerning student majors.
Provost Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs, said with the app, academic advisers will transition from being someone who helps with the registration process to someone who works closely with students and acts more like a coach. Through this, Lacourse said there are hopes to improve student retention and success.
“We [are moving] from more of a faculty-centered approach to a student-centered approach,” Lacourse said. “The student’s record is what is most important, and now we have access to all of the different individuals on campus who are supporting students. Now [DSU departments] can communicate with each other by contributing and getting information from a single record.”
Since the release of the app in October, DSU students have been able to schedule appointments with advisers, plan study groups, explore their major, view course schedules, receive appointment notifications and more.
Lacourse said all features will be released into the app for student use in the summer of 2021. Lacourse said he is specifically excited about a graduation planning tool. With this tool, students will be able to see what their four-year graduation plan is as well as compare it to a two-year or three-year plan.
Lainey Cornwall, a freshman medical laboratory science major from Logandale, Nevada, said this feature would be something she would utilize to help her plan ahead.
“It would be nice for me because I like to plan ahead,” Cornwall said.
Another part of Navigate will tell students which courses within their major are important for success in their major; for example, students will have access to information on which courses build core concepts and are important to get good grades in.
Other features, such as inter-department communication, will also be added with hopes to help students succeed, Lacourse said.
The app was originally purchased from the Education Advisory Board and rolled out by DSU in October 2019 for $150,000. The app was paid for with a one-time salary savings fund, Lacourse said; however, it will need to be budgeted in the future and the cost will increase each year.
Sarah Vandermark, associate provost for academic success, said 6,051 appointments have been scheduled through Navigate as of Jan. 14; there have been over 200 downloads each month since October 2019.
Cornwall said she had never even heard of the app, but that the features offered would have been helpful as she started her time at DSU. Specifically, Cornwall said, she would have liked to have known she could schedule appointments through the app.
“Sometimes with the emailing, [advisers] get busy and they forget to respond and you don’t get the time that you need,” Cornwall said.
Making appointments with advisers can be difficult for students, said Craig Demke, associate academic adviser for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the part-time manager and coordinator for EAB. Because of the app, students can schedule on their own time on a platform they are comfortable with.
For academic advisers, this means connecting with more students as well as students who typically would shy away from visiting advisement offices.
“I have never seen so many students utilize a tool so quickly,” Vandermark said. “From my perspective, that is really beneficial. You see the power in helping students be able to make appointments and connect.”
Vandermark said she hopes students use the app and take advantage of the new services available through Navigate.
“We can help and advocate and work with students when we know there is a need for students,” Vandermark said. “We are outreaching, but we want to hear back from students. We’re hoping that they see this as a tool that helps them and gives them guidance and that they know everybody here on campus is here to help them get to where they need to go in life.”
You can download the Navigate app for Android or iOS.