CITRIS Engages the Next Generation of Students Prepping for College

A hackathon held March 17 brought together 30 students, designers, programmers, and outreach officers from UC Berkeley and the UC Office of the President. The goal was to design apps that facilitate the process of preparing for and applying to college. The event was held in conjunction with Learning Mode, a conference on online education produced by the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM) and the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative and supported by the UC Office of the President–Departments of Education Partnerships and Student Affairs. Three teams won $500 each for their apps:  Picture Yourself, UConnect, and U-brella. Descriptions of the projects are below.
The Education Partnerships office at UCOP continues its investment in expanding and diversifying the pool of college applicants by funding a grant of $31,000 for the development and implementation of Picture Yourself. “We are pleased to support these creative efforts to engage the next generation of college students,” says Assistant Vice Provost and Executive Director Yvette Gullatt. BCNM and the Social Apps Lab at CITRIS will assist developers Ted Curran and John Scott to build, test, and launch the app this fall. Professor Greg Niemeyer led the Learning Mode conference and hackathon and serves as director of BCNM and co-founder of the Social Apps Lab.
Picture Yourself helps high school students stay engaged on the path to college by literally and figuratively “picturing” themselves in college. They can take photos of themselves and superimpose their image against different college campuses, then share the photos with friends. Incorporating game elements, the app requires users to complete various “missions” and milestones related to college preparation, such as visiting with a guidance counselor, completing volunteer service or exploring financial aid opportunities. These milestones break the daunting task of applying to college into manageable interactions so students can start to picture themselves as “college-ready.”
The other two winning apps create technology solutions to facilitate peer mentorship and connections for high school students preparing to apply to college. UConnect helps students connect with college mentors based on their interest and backgrounds. The app lets students send questions about college and the application process, and encourages mentors to direct high school students to UC and other college resources.
U-Brella offers a personality and personal information quiz to middle- and high school students. This information creates a profile for the student, and they are notified of scholarships or nearby academic/extracurricular programs that will help prepare or interest them in college. The student can also choose to have an alumnus mentor them through the process of college admission, nudging them along and sharing what their experience was like at college.
Please contact CITRIS Deputy Director Camille Crittenden for more information about these projects or to make a gift to support student engagement at CITRIS for developing apps for college-readiness.