Kansas State U. Polytechnic taps Rah Rah for student engagement

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In an effort to offer a more coordinated student experience on campus, Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus will enable students next fall to download an all-in-one mobile app to promote events, athletics and offer academic support.

The app, called Rah Rah, is built by a company of the same name that offers a comprehensive suite of educational and extracurricular tools for students and faculty to use for things like keeping up with their clubs and organizations, scheduling appointments on campus and checking in with off-campus events around the school, said Christopher Smith, the university’s executive director of enrollment management, marketing and financial aid.

The app, which is also being considered for use by Indian River State College in Florida, tracks engagement data from student users, which could allow Smith and his colleagues plan to further improve the school’s extracurricular programming. Centralizing nearly every campus activity, rather than requiring busy students to seek out opportunities on their own, is the college’s latest effort to improve student retention.

“At major universities, you have all of these resources, but at the bottom line is the student always says ‘I didn’t know anything about that.’” Smith told EdScoop. “You can communicate it every which way but Sunday, but this is going to bridge that so students have one place to go for everything.”

Previously, Smith explained, the school had disparate systems to manage student engagement with athletics, academics and extracurricular clubs, leading to inefficient communication across campus and, potentially, students missing out on activities they would have otherwise been interested in. The app will suggest events and activities on campus and throughout the community to student users based on their interests, and students will be able to opt in and out of notifications or features on the app as well.

“That will continue to engage students in the way they want to be engaged,” Smith said, “and that fits very nicely into what we’re doing here on the polytechnic campus. Not every person is the same, and this is the one app we’ve come across that allows for individuality, for an organic, authentic approach to that particular student.”

Smith and Terri Gaeddert, ‎the university’s associate dean of academics and student success, said they strive to take a “consultative” approach to campus life, striving to meet students “where they’re at.” As opposed to other enterprise campus engagement platforms, Gaeddert said, Rah Rah — a startup founded in 2018 — is mobile-first, which was good news for email-weary students and faculty.

“It was something that was sort of a natural fit, if you will,” Smith said.

Gaeddert also said that she was swayed by Rah Rah’s willingness to build a “clubs and organizations” tool into the app for the school, though it already had all of the other major components that she was looking for. Once they download the app, students will have a single sign-on for all of the calendar, academic and social features, Gaeddert said, virtually eliminating the need to email professors or advisers to ask for an appointment.

Some students will pilot the app on campus this summer and provide feedback for enhancement prior to the fall semester, she said.

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