New App Nudges Students to Higher Education
by Dianne Anderson
Life just got easier with a new mobile app that allows students to access almost anything they need to get ready to enter colleges and universities.
Frederick Jones, who graduated from San Bernardino Valley College earlier this year, said the app is a breakthrough to help schools work with counselors to reach traditionally underserved students.
Local school districts, universities and community colleges also track students from middle school to college, all while providing helpful resources via the platform.
“We’re working with different universities, we’re expanding all over. Right now, with Albion, Merced and Stanford. We’re trying to reach out to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities so we can get a lot of our urban students involved and set them up for success,” said Jones, a spokesperson for Siembra Mobile, Inc.
Jones is now a student success coach in his first year at Cal State University San Bernardino in the California Student Opportunity Access Program (Cal-SOAP), which supports first-generation college-bound students.
He said SBVC’s new partnership with Siembra is turning students’ attention to college while they are still in high school.
Nearly everything is virtual these days, and the streamlined approach is similar to a virtual college fair where students text and communicate with college counselors, he said. Students receive regular alerts, called “nudges,” about what is required of them, and how to apply to colleges and universities.
Jones, past president of Umoja Tumaini club at Valley College, said that his goal has always been to engage lower-income, first-generation students with resources to increase retention and matriculation.
The app is free to K-12. It’s also something most students find easy to use, and less hassle in getting students through the outreach and recruitment process.
“We’re getting a lot of traction. We’re trying to work with Cal-SOAP so we can get the student information into the universities of their choosing,” he said.
When students are ready to apply to the college, they’re already set up. The app has access to their transcripts and student GPA information from their high schools.
“There’s no need to take the extra step to order transcripts, and your parent is also involved,” he said. “We all work together to make sure you have that success.”
Schools typically buy lists of students with their names, and identification numbers, to create targeted lists. With the mobile app, Jones said the outreach is more efficient, offering significant savings for colleges and universities.
Valley College has been using the education technology for over a year.
In a recent panel discussion, Dr. Joseph Brown, Graduate Admissions and Director for Diversity & Inclusion Stanford University, spoke to the importance of the app’s “nudges.” especially for this generation.
Students these days hardly answer their phones, but are quick to respond to a text.
Brown said that they bought into the Siembra app, and see it as a perfect platform for delivering successful inter-educational interventions to students through chats.
On the college recruitment side, he said students are paying attention to the small alerts and communications, which helps recruiters stay connected to prospective applicants starting in the ninth grade.
“It’s not going to be an elaborate communication but one that simply says – hey I see you and you know what you’re a great candidate for our college we’re going to stay in touch,” he said.
Dr. Hernan Bucheli, vice president of Enrollment at Albion College, also spoke to the efficiency of the mobile app, particularly during this time of virtual college. He said the mobile app connects colleges and universities to high schools, to their feeder schools starting in the ninth grade.
In their college’s history, he said they have seen one of the most diverse classes of all time, 40 percent were students of color.
“It does that with high-level articulation agreements, meeting students where they’re at on their phone. This is how you’re going to get to students including first-gen students diversifying your top of the funnel.”