University mobile app for students: a complete guide

University Mobile App
Key statistics emphasize the need for urgency for educational institutions to invest in a dedicated university or college mobile app for students.  The millennials and Gen-Z have proven their allegiance to smartphones, and of course, many of them are still pursuing a college education.

According to Nielson, people spend 89 percent of their media time on mobile apps and only 11 percent of their time is spent on the mobile web. As everything is getting digitalized universities must invest in mobile apps for improving student engagement & success.

The next big thing on the campuses is going to be university mobile apps that cater to students’ administrative needs as 98 percent of millennials now own smartphones and use apps to do virtually everything.

Realizing these many universities have already started to transform their administrative operations with next-generation mobile apps to better engage students.

Come 2022, only smart universities/schools embracing mobile apps for student engagement will beat the competition and stay afloat. It’s a make or break for institutions that are yet to take the digital route to attract and engage students.

Planning for digitalization of your administrative operations? Don’t know how to get started with?

This guide will help you realize the significance of mobile apps and their role in ensuring student success.

What is a University Mobile App

While there are many definitions based on the usage, an apt definition would be a single app to manage and elevate the overall student engagement, experience, and services by connecting to all the existing systems of University or College and giving the students a unified view where all the resources of the campus can be accessed through a single, institution branded mobile app.

University Mobile App

Why is a University Mobile App need of the hour

Go where your Students are to elevate student experience, extend student services, and improve student engagement

If you want to connect with and engage your students effectively, you cannot do it from behind a desk or via a desktop application. Campuses must virtually go where the students are spending most of their time.  It is no secret that the lives of millennial students are pervaded by smartphones. Many of the students do not even own a desktop computer but come to the campus with a smartphone or a tablet. This is where the university mobile app becomes a critical solution to enhance student engagement and experience. Recent social health challenges caused by the virus have pushed students to learn from home and this has brought another dimension – student services to be delivered through their everyday devices, be it mental health or wellness.

Students are increasingly choosing colleges and universities that offer a wide range of mobile apps for them to do everything from finding their way around campuses, enrolling in classes, raising an issue or query, booking appointments with staff members, attending online and campus events, joining clubs and communities, campus security, and paying their fees. Students would naturally prefer to perform these sorts of tasks in a more user-friendly app that is comprehensive and serves them as a ‘one-stop app’, rather than having to access multiple apps on their phone.  Students are also known to keep only apps that are engaging and useful and delete rather quickly all the apps they feel that they do not need.  This forces colleges and universities to make a great effort to make student apps highly engaging, meaningful, useful, and trendy. For this reason, there cannot be a  mobile app for student experience, a mobile app for student engagement, and a mobile app for student services but a single mobile app for students that comprises all the above in one.

The Student Administrator’s or Success Manager’s need for a university mobile app

The most important aspect be it e2sapp  or any other university mobile app for students need to bring in is the real-time 360 Student View of each individual student that would give the campus stakeholders a clear view of the student’s engagement, experience, services, satisfaction, progress, centralized notes, communication history, etc. Very often legacy systems house student data and learning materials, and there is rarely a single dashboard that puts the ‘student in the middle of the institutional universe’ empowering all campus constituents to collaboratively work together for student success, in a consistent manner supported by reliable information flow. Having a real-time 360 student view helps the student managers deliver student-centric approaches irrespective of departmental silos, poor coordination of campus constituents, scant or scattered availability of useful management information. A University mobile app should have the reporting capabilities on par with any other system within the university.

The mobile app should enable Student Administrators with

  • the right data to execute engagement strategies,
  • execute short-term and long-term goals with the university’s strategic plan,
  • drive process and procedures with proactive services towards student satisfaction and retention, and
  • all of this and more from within the university or the college mobile app.

Is building an in-house mobile app meaningful for your University or College

Appearance Is Everything Many colleges and universities develop mobile apps in-house as a cost-effective measure but having a mobile app isn’t the end of the story.  Most of these apps are developed in-house very often by students attending computer science programs.  These apps give a start, but they may not incorporate best-of-breed ideas and practices to be learned from institutions around the world and thus will usually lag behind commercial apps. It is no secret that students access only those apps with interesting and useful features.  Some elements of community and engagement features are needed on a student app to make the app sufficiently interesting to discerning students. Students would like the app to be a tool that facilitates two-way communication between the student and the institution, rather than just a notification mechanism for the institution.  They would also like to network with other like-minded students on the campus.  It all finally comes down to the app experience! Students will quickly abandon the app if they are visually unpleasant, boring, intrusive, or irksome. Statistics show that 23% of the users disown an app after one use and 62% use an app less than 11 times. These facts have to be taken into account if your institution plans to invest in a university mobile app for students, prospects, or alumni. Your goals and return on investment should be comprehended and outlined, before rolling out the mobile app. Each university has a set of unique cultures, procedures, guidelines, and services. As a result, each campus needs mobile apps that best suit their needs. The university mobile app or the college mobile app should be institution-branded and contain features that make navigating campus systems easier and communicating with staff faster. The app provider ought to do all the heavy lifting for you by architecting an easy-to-use Mobile App Design Studio! The college or university should be able to design their app with their brand, colors, themes, and icons and publish it as often as needed, without writing a single line of code and never sending any annoying updates through the app store to the student’s mobile phone. The college should have the option to add new applets to bring in useful website links such as dining, student security, transport options, alumni stories, etc. Your point solution apps (say for virtual tours, campus security, etc) currently used by students, if any, can easily be brought under the umbrella of one single student administrative app so that this app becomes a single, convenient stop for all your student needs. Creative: multiple systems linked out to one app accessed by students (alt text mobile app for higher education, higher ed mobile app) It is quite likely that your students would need both a mobile app and a web portal.  For those students who prefer to use the portal on their desktop or laptop, they need the user interface attractive and user experience intuitive. We understand that there may be a small student population that even today exclusively uses their desktops or laptops.  Others would need the same qualities delivered through their mobile apps. The campus staff should be able to communicate with the students using their staff portal, instantly and effectively to the student’s mobile app.

What must a mobile app of higher education have

Any university mobile app for students needs to be a highly curated, elegant, and easy-to-use solution that helps support students through their educational journey on the campus.  It also ought to streamline each student service staff member’s workday so that they would optimally spend their time to connect with, serve and engage the student population, one at a time. In this competitive world, your current student ‘word of mouth’, mostly powered by social media, is so important to build your institutional brand equity, and without doubt, good service and engagement-oriented mobile app will go a long way in that regard. The campus mobile app needs to come with functionalities that emphasize student service and responsiveness, vibrant interactions, engagement tools for staff members and students: Chat, Service Desk, Appointment Scheduler, Event Manager, Poll and Surveys, Campus News, Maps, Notifications, Communities for learning and leisure, 360-degree view, class schedule, mentoring, multi-channel communication, drip campaigns, etc.  The idea is to elevate the student experience and build a strong bond between the institution and the students to foster life-long relationships. What can be achieved with a campus mobile app and how? Colleges and Universities need to switch to mobile technology that can  effectively engage and serve their students through:
  • Effective and customized communication with students to guide them on their campus journey
  • Build the school brand rapidly through apps on students’ devices and their word-of-mouth
  • Offer students access to critical support resources on the palm of their hands
  • Encourage peer communication and engagement
  • Provide mobile services to students that are fast becoming a “must-have” in higher education
Today’s students are dependent on their smartphones for text, email, social media, campus news & events, assessments and assignments, teaching materials, timetable, surveys, polls, to get involved in community discussions, etc. throughout their day. In this hyper-connected world, mobile apps connect the campus stakeholders with the students, hence the campus communication strategies must be increasingly mobile-centric.  If there’s a learning app in the institution already, that can be integrated with a service/engagement app as explained below.

Must-have mobile app features for Student Administrators to serve and engage students

  • Campus news
  • Events
  • Book appointments
  • Read FAQ’s
  • Raise a ticket or ask a question
  • Polls
  • Student communities
  • Digital Notice Board
  • 360 Student view – centralized notes, etc.
  • Staff Directory
  • Campus maps
  • Chat & Notifications
  • Student journey
  • Mentoring
  • Achievement Kudos and Badges
  • Integration with existing campus systems – SIS, LMS, Fee Payment, etc.
Campus staff in order to create a strong bond with each student must know the student well.   They need a real-time 360-degree view of the student with dashboards of his engagement, progress, communication history, centralized notes, and interactive timelines. The student service staff will be able to see everything about the student in one single dashboard without having to toggle between systems so that they deliver consistent and meaningful service to each student.  This approach for launching a student mobile app will eliminate the departmental silos and resultant student frustration.

Student Persona for targeted communication and tracking progres

The soul of a university mobile app product will lie in its ability to create personalized communication and action sets, track and view analytics for each Student Persona.  You ought to be able to easily create Student Personas using multiple tags and attributes and create pathways including planned drip campaigns to be triggered by dates or events. Each student is unique and so should be your approach to engaging and serving a diverse student population by providing configurable workflows and customized interactions based on their backgrounds and aspirations. e2sapp can help you develop the student personas to target interest-based content for high levels of engagement –Read more. The concepts related to student personas have been embraced by colleges and universities in recent times. providing colleges and universities new ways to improve the effectiveness of student communications and engagement initiatives. Utilizing a persona-based approach in communicating, tracking and reporting can provide a sensible and effective strategy to advance institutional goals. Like the corporate sector, colleges and universities can benefit from the use of personas to facilitate customer (student) acquisition and retention, as part of their marketing and retention initiatives. Personas can provide a way to categorize both prospective and current students to deliver persona-targeted content that will resonate with individuals in each persona group, maximizing effectiveness and improving the individual student experience. Personas need to be integrated into the development of college websites and student mobile apps. By designing their website in a way that students represented by each persona can easily find relevant content, colleges can maximize the impact of their web presence on both prospective and current students. Persona-based messaging can be used in the onboarding process to deliver personalized interactions that will increase yield. For example: if a student belongs to more than one persona, say she is an international student and also physically challenged, she would receive targeted messages and action steps relevant only to those two personas;  campus staff can do the necessary handholding needed to make her educational journey successful and pleasant. This is how the feature ‘Student Journey’ on the mobile app is to be implemented and utilized in order to maximize student success. A persona-based approach is also best used to target communication to newly enrolled students, who are still navigating complex campus systems and hence a bit vulnerable, by distinguishing different types of students on the campus and delivering messages that will best optimize engagement, retention, and student success efforts. The technique can be used with school alumni as well, enabling schools to identify groups of alumni with common characteristics (for example alumni who are entrepreneurs, in research, in practice, etc.) to fine-tune messages for each alumni persona engagement, involvement, mentoring, and continued support and making them central to the well being of current students.

Mobile app platform and application security

The college or the university mobile app needs extensive admin functionality to set up the campus and organizational details, roles, hierarchy, permission sets, and access privileges for campus student service staff members on what they can view or edit. Security and access privileges within the application need to be tightly controlled and all changes to those settings are tracked via audit logs. FERPA, HECVAT, GDPR, VPAT Country-based cloud hosting, and other key security and infrastructure frameworks have to have adhered to. Of course, there are a host of other security compliance features to be taken care of, such as encryption and decryption of data.  e2sapp team will be happy to consult and discuss it with you based on interest – reach out here
  • Use a powerful Google Maps base to add any custom markers so that users easily identify campus locations and other hotspots.  Reviews of local area visits to places of interest by students will be helpful information to the general student population.
  • Publish a Staff Directory with their associated contact information.  Students can email or call directly from here to provide smooth institution-student communication.  In today’s world, students ought to be able to chat with a staff member who is online.  The directory may also include only staff members that are relevant to each student group.
  • Make sure that all the heavy lifting is done for you in the mobile app architecture.  An easy to use university Mobile App Design Studioshouldhelp you design and publish the appas often as you want, all without ever sending any annoying updates to students through the app store.  The next time your user opens the app – voila!  This means that you can design new themes for holidays such as Christmas or Easter to make the mobile app engaging, without having to write a single line of code.
  • The app should track a variety of mobile app usage Analytics,so that you understand how your students are using the app, how much do they like individual features on the app, what are the hours in the day they use the app, what’s their feedback on app features, what devices are popular among students etc. This will help you finetune your communication, service and engagement through the app..  The more you know about your students, the better you can handhold them across the finish line!
  • Send users unlimited push Notifications (though we recommend not annoying your users with too many!).  Notifications can be used in case of emergency or if you decided to throw a pizza party at the cafeteria for your freshman class or a birthday message to an international student who recently arrived on the campus.
  • Your students think of their best questions at a variety of different times – on the bus, at the dead of night, while camping?  Give your students the power to raise a service request on their university mobile app at any time using a Service Desk on the mobile appand allow for a great level of transparency (if you want to!) as they see their queries get resolved! Just a single feature of this kind,can create a transformative student experience.
  • Tired of answering the same questions over and over?  Why not createa nifty FAQ’s module to get your users’ questions with intuitive keyword search, answered quickly to make life easier for you!  Win-win?  Of course.  Any question that’s repeatedly raised by a number of students is a great candidate to become a FAQ.  You may also add your other campus policies, procedures, guidelines and recommendations to this knowledge base for students to self-serve as much as possible.
  • Get a holistic view of your students on 360 Student View and optionally import data from other institutional systems such as your SIS and LMS.  All interaction touchpoints are tracked to truly “Know Your Student”.  Having a single dashboard of a student without cumbersome toggles between systems is the dream of many institutions.  It is best accomplished when you implement a mobile app solution with a “student-first” design!
  • Your students have likely taken your campus groups online on platforms that you can’t track engagement on (Facebook etc.?).  Encourage students to create both academic and leisure Communities on the mobile app to ensure that these vibrant networks are visible to you too!  They should be able to create a closed linkedin group or student network and engage in interesting discussions.
  • Campuses need event management capabilities on the university mobile app with RSVP and attendance capabilities for all your open days and other events that you organize on or off-campus.  You need a comprehensive Event module to organize, administer and manage online and offline events, workshops, and conferences to benefit students – all the way from invitation to registration and from event notes to feedback.
  • Create pre-defined time slots that indicate your planned availability so that students can easily confirm mutual availability.  Students can also request specific Appointment times that can be confirmed by you.  This is very useful for campus staff-student meetings, and confidential notes taking especially while doing case management, if any.
  • Keep your student-related activities organized in a mobile app Calendar that can easily be synced with work/personal calendars.  This calendar may indicate all campus appointments for students including meetings, events, class schedule and other reminders.  Campus service staff would need a similar calendar too in order not to miss any student touchpoint.
  • Essential need on campuses today, and therefore the mobile app should provide this important feature.  Students need mentoring and counselling for a variety of reasons such as wellness, mental health, course choices, career path etc. They should be able to register for any such mentoring sessions available on the campus through the alumni or professional counsellors.
All in one university mobile app for higher education with integration with your LMS, SIS, Online Classes tools, etc., thus giving a student a seamless experience.

How important is a healthy roadmap of features for your student mobile app

The answer is  “Yes, absolutely important”.  The world is changing and so are your student needs.   Let us help you meet those needs. Contact Us


It is important for you as a student success manager or student administrator that your student mobile app can morph seamlessly to reflect students’ changing needs.  An exciting roadmap of features and functionalities must aim at promoting student engagement and experience. Some innovative ideas are sure to come out of your student focus groups on campus.  In case you decide to buy the app from an experienced university mobile app vendor, it is needless to say that their best-of-breed experience learned from campuses of global clientele will come in handy for your campus. Such expansive experience ought to help you immensely. Your core philosophy in this initiative should be to implement a transformational mobile app for your students that would stand the test of time and always put your students first.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.