Entering college can be one of the most exciting but difficult transitions of any young person’s life. Incoming students are immediately met with new pressures, asked to make difficult decisions, and are tasked with adjusting to what is often unfamiliar territory. Navigating these new environments can be intimidating, but academic libraries can play a valuable role in easing that transition and ensuring that students are primed for success.
A study completed at the University of Minnesota found that first-time, first-year undergraduates who use the library have a higher GPA for their first term and higher retention following that semester than those who did not use the library. A second study by the Project Information Literacy Research Report agreed that increasing student engagement with library resources increases the likelihood that a student will stay in school. Student engagement is always a high priority for academic libraries and with student retention rates decreasing in today’s colleges, having a positive impact on graduation rates can help a library increase its prominence in the campus community. That said, there are obstacles to keeping students engaged.
There is little debate among those familiar with them that academic libraries can provide a wealth of resources to students as they move through this critical time of academic, professional, and personal growth. However, students are often unaware of just how much information and how many resources are at their disposal. College libraries are usually significantly larger than high school libraries with greater access to databases and journals. With students’ increased workload comes a top-notch tool to help them through their studies. Still, overwhelmed college students are often unaware and may see the library as a merely place to charge their phone.
If students become aware of what libraries have to offer though, they still often struggle to best utilize those tools. A recent study done by the Project Information Literacy Research Report uncovered some interesting trends. While freshmen college students have been exposed to research throughout their academic careers, that level of research naturally gets progressively more advanced. Students often experience a steep learning curve when they ascend to the college level. The complex array of digital and print resources that colleges provide and college-level research necessitates using is consistently difficult for new students to navigate. This creates frustration and increases the likelihood of research abandonment.
Even more concerning is other research finds that 75% of students that drop out often withdraw within the first semester or immediately after the end of the term. That means that institutions and their libraries must connect with students quickly. With the great benefits that student engagement with the library can provide, it is critical that all students are made aware of how it can help them reach their goals.
The good news is that there are some great ways to make the information seeking process more intuitive and comprehensible for young students and it entails working with something they are already passionate about and heavily engaged with: mobile devices. With the increasing prominence of mobile devices and over 86% of students’ mobile device spent in native apps, reaching your students on a mobile app is a perfect way to help decrease research frustration and increase your library’s visibility. Utilizing this highly accessible means of connecting with students is not merely theoretically beneficial. Students themselves are calling for technology to help them succeed. Over 75% of students believe that technology helps them achieve their academic outcomes, better equips them for subsequent educational endeavors, and even prepares them for their future professions. Contact Boopsie to learn more about how a mobile app can help your library and students.