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Welcome Week app puts campus at students’ fingertips

USC will provide incoming freshmen with a Welcome Week app
Last year, 2,500 incoming students downloaded the Welcome Week app. (Photo/Nathan Carter)

These days, there’s an app for just about everything, and USC’s Welcome Week 2012 is no exception.

Welcome Week 2012, from Aug. 22 to Aug. 29, is seven days of academic, service, social and spirit activities to help incoming freshmen adapt to university life. For the second consecutive year, USC’s Office of Campus Activities has teamed up with to create a free Welcome Week app for students to download to their mobile devices.

The app features a schedule planner, alerts for daily events, campus maps and a map of the Involvement Fair, which shows where student organizations will have their table. This year, incoming students can also use the maps to get walking directions to any location on campus.

“Last year, we thought, why not give this a shot? So we included it along with Welcome Week brochures,” said Heather Larabee, director of Campus Activities. “We had great success with it, so this year, we are only providing students with the mobile application. It’ll actually allow our campus to be much greener.”

The application is compatible across a number of platforms, from a smartphone to a Blackberry to an iPad. Students who have mobile devices that are not compatible with the application can download Welcome Week information as a PDF file at starting Aug. 1.

“Heather always says it’s important to meet students where they’re at, and this is a perfect example of that,” said Lily Chowana-Bandhu, associate director of Campus Activities. “Most of the students that come to our university each year have the latest phones, tablets and gadgets. So we thought, why not utilize that space to create something that could be of use and of interest to them?”

Amanda Schmitt, a sophomore majoring in international relations, found the app handy not only during Welcome Week, but also during her first semester on campus.

“To be completely honest, I used a lot of those maps to get around to my classes during the first few months,” she said. “It was a very useful thing to have around whenever I needed it because, unlike fliers, I never had to worry about losing it somewhere.”

Schmitt was one of 2,500 incoming students to download the app during last year’s Welcome Week.

To increase those numbers this year, students will receive postcards that highlight the app’s link at each new-student orientation session. The Office of Campus Activities also plans to post the QR code around campus for students to scan into their mobile devices.

In addition to the Welcome Week app, the Office of Campus Activities plans to unveil another app during the fall 2012 semester that will allow students to view a student organization events calendar.

“We were one of the first universities to create a student-friendly mobile application, and there’s so much more we can do,” Larabee said. “Based on the positive reaction we’ve received regarding the Welcome Week application, we definitely plan to do more in the future.”

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