For colleges, freshmen retention continues to be a concern — most students who drop out of college, do so in their first year. That fact has colleges seeking opportunities to engage, prepare and welcome students to campus and ease the transition to college life. Incoming students have millions of questions from what classes and activities to take to what sheets will fit on their dorm bed. Administrators can’t possibly field all these inquiries and many first year students, even before they step foot on campus, begin to feel isolated and overwhelmed. To make students feel more engaged, Texas A&M, is using a campus-specific smart phone app to connect incoming students to answer and one another. According to some new research, the results are encouraging. In a survey of those incoming A&M students who used it, a very robust 83% said they felt that it helped them get off to a good start at their university. The same percentage agreed that it helped them feel more confident as a first year student at their university. And 79% of students agreed it helped them to be better prepared as a first year student. It may be some time before it can be shown that early social media engagement brings down the freshman dropout rate, but helping freshmen feel more confident and prepared are certainly good trends.
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