Abisha Anaston ‘19 has become an expert in juggling.
As a full-time biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Anaston must keep track of homework, labs, exams and enrollment deadlines. Keeping up requires rigorous monitoring of her progress on several different websites.
Sometimes managing your education can be complicated. As part of its ongoing commitment to student success and embracing the latest technological advances, Stony Brook University has purchased a license for a personalized smartphone application called Guide to help students stay on track.
The response has been tremendous — according to a report from the academic news site Education Dive, 60 percent of Stony Brook freshmen — the initial target audience — have downloaded Guide since the Fall 2017 semester. The app was downloaded on campus more than 5,000 times during this academic year.
The use of university-specific apps is a rising trend around the country as students use their phones to do just about everything, from getting directions to sending money to friends. With approximately one in five Stony Brook students having already downloaded Guide, the University recognizes and is continuing to meet that demand. Over the past several years, Stony Brook has also released apps for the campus transit system, Blackboard online classes and more. An app that improves student outcomes was the next logical step for the University, said Stefan Hyman, assistant provost for enrollment strategies, communications and analytics.
Guide comes to Stony Brook with the support of grants through the SUNY Performance and Investment Fund, which aims to provide students with tools that ease the path to success. Hyman said that the app is also a direct response to requests and feedback from current students.
“We’ve offered a virtual campus tour app and similar resources for new students for a long time now, but as we studied the statistics, I was struck that even current students downloaded them with very high frequency,” said Hyman, who is responsible for bringing student-friendly technology to Stony Brook. “I came to understand that current students were looking for something of their own as well.”
Guide, developed by technology firm EAB, is designed to help new students adjust to life on campus with a virtual tour, provide information about available services and even introduce different majors for those still deciding what to study. So far, freshmen have made up the majority of downloads. But upperclassmen benefit as well. Guide allows users to schedule an appointment with a tutor or their advisor immediately, learn about internship or career exploration opportunities, keep track of due dates and more.
Anaston took a chance on the Guide app when a campus email encouraged students to download it at the beginning of the Spring 2018 semester. “I thought, ‘Why not?’ And It’s made my life so much easier. I no longer have to browse the Web or check my Solar account [Stony Brook’s self-service information management system] for important deadlines, and it’s kept me on top of my schedule so there are no academic holds on my account,” she said.
While each student will use the app for different reasons, Hyman said that every student will find something to benefit them.
“When you’re at a place for a long time, you find your own ways of doing things. But this app can help students make improvements to their current strategy,” Hyman explained. “We often hear from our focus groups that they wish they’d had something like this when they started at Stony Brook.”
The Guide app’s versatility makes it a useful tool for students from the time of their acceptance to graduation day and even on the job hunt.
“I love that I can export my complete semester calendar to the app. This way I can keep track of classes, exams and appointments,” said Aravinth Pushparaj ‘19, a mechanical engineering major in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Getting in touch with professors or making an appointment with my advisor is so easy now that it’s all here in one place.”