Picking a major isn’t easy. Neither is helping a 19-year-old discern what course of study to pursue, as Alison Levey, associate director for advising services at Mendoza College of Business, can attest.
But now there’s an app for that, thanks to a collaboration between Levey and the Mendoza IT Operations Group’s Diego Wang, operations project manager, and Mark Kimmet, senior systems engineer.
Initially, Levey wanted to build a web portal to help students engage more deeply with the college’s major discernment process as they prepared to choose one of Mendoza’s five majors in February of their sophomore year. She took her website idea to Wang and Kimmet.
“They got that little gleam (in their eyes) and said, ‘We can build that, but what about an app?’” Levey recalls.
Wang says that he and Kimmet believed a mobile app was a better technology fit for both Levey’s audience and her goals. “Nowadays, every student has a smart phone,”
Their recommendation also fit with the Mendoza IT team’s goal to be a strategic partner for the various departments at the college. “You come to us, and we use our knowledge to consult with you and come up with a solution for you to best serve your business needs,” Wang explains.
Mendoza piloted the app, which they called the SMART Sophomore app, on Apple and Android platforms in fall 2017. (SMART stands for Students Managing Academics, Resources and Time.) The app featured a number of points-based challenges designed to encourage sophomores to reflect on their personal strengths and interests, evaluate their major options, explore career paths and attend Mendoza events, including workshops and information sessions. Students could use the points to earn prizes, such as preferential registration for a future class. Because students used QR codes scanned with the app to check in at events and gain points, Levey was able to easily track attendance and other metrics through a dashboard built for her.
The app was expanded and rebranded as MendozaSMART in fall 2018, and sophomores were required to use it to sign in at orientation. It includes a stronger communications channel, which pushes out advising alerts. Those messages are then archived in the app, making it easier for students to refer back to them. Currently, students have completed about 1,200 challenges and earned more than 200 prizes. Levey estimates there are about 50 student “super users” on the app, and she hopes to find ways to increase the number as they move forward and expand the app to more class years.
Levey gave a presentation about the app to about 35 peer institutions at the National Undergraduate Business Symposium over the summer, and she, Wang and Kimmet were recognized in January with a Dean’s Award from the Mendoza College of Business for their work.